What to Do First When Charged with a Federal Crime
If you are under investigation or have been charged with a federal crime, this is probably one of the most stressful times of your life. You have the best chance of making it through if you have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side.
The federal criminal process is a long one, and very little happens quickly. Therefore, unless you’ve just been arrested, or have delayed hiring an attorney and a deadline is approaching, try not to panic. Take a breath and start learning what you can about the process.
Federal Crime Charges Explained
If you are arrested for any reason, you must first understand what type of charges you are facing. Click here for a comprehensive list of federal crimes. Some of the more common types of federal charges include:
Once you understand what charges you are facing, you will need to gather any documents or other evidence regarding the alleged crime. Take notes on what has happened as soon as possible. Memories fade, and therefore, it’s important to write things down as they happen, or as soon as you can afterwards. These notes can help your lawyer understand the full picture.
As you are keeping these notes, whether by hand or electronically, be sure to write in bold letters across the top of each page “Attorney-Client Privileged” and keep each file in a safe, preferably locked place. If keeping electronic files, place that phrase in the title of the file and in the filename of each document. That gives you the protection of the attorney-client privilege if someone from the government finds the notes.
Avoid Making Statements
Until you have spoken with an attorney, it is important to avoid making statements to the authorities. While you may think you are being helpful, you could actually unknowingly make a mistake and incriminate yourself if you talk to authorities without the presence of an attorney.
If approached by police or a federal investigator, in order to stop any questions, you should say:
- I will not make any statements.
- I do not consent to any search.
- I want to speak with my lawyer.
Additionally, try to avoid talking to friends and family about the details of the charges. These people may end up being called as witnesses to testify against you later. The less they know, the better.
If you have been arrested and are being held in jail, do not talk to other inmates about your case. Do not talk to anyone on the phone about your case. All communications may be monitored.
Do not plead guilty to any charges without contacting an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
Defending Against Federal Crime Charges
Before talking to an attorney, take some time to write down questions that come to mind. As you did with your notes, you’ll want to write or type at the top of each page and in the title of all electronic documents, the phrase “Attorney-Client Communication.” This is a stressful time, so having your questions written down will help jog your memory.
When searching for an attorney, be sure to look for those with experience in federal criminal litigation, particularly for the crime for which you have been charged.
When discussing your case with an attorney, it’s important, to be honest. Even if you think that the information might hurt your case, it will hurt more if your attorney is not aware of it. Everything (with a few limited exceptions) you say to your attorney is privileged information, which means that your attorney cannot tell anyone else what you’ve said.
The Criminal Defense Firm team includes two former federal prosecutors and experienced criminal defense counsel who are available to discuss your case. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation, call 866-603-4540 today, or you can contact The Criminal Defense Firm online. We look forward to hearing from you.