Federal court is very different than state court. You must contact a federal defense attorney as soon as you know you are under investigation. Sometimes the investigators or the federal prosecutor can be persuaded that they do not have a case. In many cases, it is necessary to rapidly begin plea negotiations. There is a time and place for jury trials, but Federal prosecutors will rarely indict a federal case unless it is nearly a slam dunk case. Investigations take too long and are too expensive to indict cases with flimsy evidence. Be wary of any attorney who advises that you to go to trial before they have reviewed the government's evidence and evaluated the strength of the government's case. Unlike state court, the decision to not cooperate with the government as well as the decision to plead not guilty can be used to increase your punishment at sentencing. Also, where local law enforcement are over-worked and under-paid, the federal government has nearly unlimited resources at its disposal.
In state court, most plea bargains happen after indictment. In the federal system, plea negotiations happen before indictment. One of the most important parts of negotiations in federal court involves "charge bargaining" where part of the plea agreement involves what charge the prosecutor will actually indict. This is necessary to lower punishment ranges that are dictated by statute. Also, you cannot agree to a specific sentence in your plea agreements in federal court the way you can in state court. Your sentence is dictated by the United States Sentencing Guidelines. These Guidelines made advisory by United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S. Ct. 738, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621 (2005) are still widely followed. You need an attorney with an understanding of the guidelines and its dangers in defending any federal case.
As a Board Certified federal attorney, I can help you navigate the harrowing process of being investigated by the federal government.My Criminal Law practice encompasses the following federal crimes: