If you have been arrested for a federal crime, the first thing you MUST do is stop talking to law enforcement officers and do NOT talk to federal prosecutors. This is true if your arrest came as a surprise or if you had some reason to expect an arrest for a federal crime. You might have already said some things, but stop talking now. As the famous Miranda warning states, “what you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” This is not a meaningless, toss-away statement. Police, prosecutors and even some judges are keen to have you say anything and everything that will help obtain a federal criminal conviction. You have a constitutional right to remain silent and you should invoke that right. If the law enforcement officers are badgering you with questions, you must also invoke your constitutional right to have a lawyer.
Speak With Your Attorney Present
Moreover, do not talk with strangers or persons with whom you are in lockup. Remember, testimony from the “jailhouse snitch” is admissible and can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You must wait to consult with your federal criminal defense team before you do any more talking, and you MUST have a defense attorney for federal crimes present before answering questions asked by the police or federal prosecutors. Having a criminal defense team with deep experience with federal crimes is important. Federal criminal law and procedures are different and more complex than state-level criminal law/procedure.
The next thing you must do depends on whether you are being held in custody or whether you will be released. In either case, again, you must continue to not talk to police, or prosecutors and do not talk with strangers about your arrest or your case.
If you are being detained in lockup, then make your phone call (or calls, if permitted). Many make the call to a loved one, who then makes follow-up calls. If you are being released pending trial, then, as soon as possible and practical, either call your already-retained criminal defense attorney or locate experienced criminal defense attorneys to help. You are going to need legal help. Defending against federal criminal charges is not “do-it-yourself.”
After Speaking With Your Criminal Defense Lawyer
The next step is to determine what the charges are. In reality, most arrests for federal criminal charges are made via a warrant and follow a grand jury indictment. Thus, in such cases, the arrest is not completely surprising (although the location and timing may come as a surprise). But, even in these types of cases, it is still important to determine the exact charges because the grand jury might not have indicted you on all possible charges. Knowing the charges is the first step in establishing the defense.
The next step is to begin collecting evidence that will help with the preparation of your defense. Again, if the arrest has followed an indictment, some of the evidence has probably already been gathered. But, there might be more evidence. If the arrest was a surprise, then you will want to relate what happened during your arrest to your federal criminal defense lawyer. Sometimes, it is useful to write down notes about what happened when you were arrested. But, importantly, on EACH sheet of paper, write at the top the words “FOR MY LAWYER.” In this manner, the attorney-client privilege will protect your written notes. Then you must actually provide these notes to your federal criminal defense attorney. What happened during the arrest might generate possible legal defenses based, for example, on violations of your constitutional rights.
Speak With a Criminal Defense and Post-Conviction Appeal Team Today
For more information, contact the criminal defense and post-conviction appeal team at Shein, Brandenburg & Schrope at the Federal Criminal Law Center. We specialize in both Georgia and federal post-conviction appeals. Our firm knows how to fully assess an individual’s case and how to identify the strongest grounds for appeal. Contact us today by calling (404) 633.3797 or by completing our quick and convenient online form. We are located in Decatur, Georgia, not too far from Atlanta.