San Fernando Valley Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
LEARN WHAT YOU SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH A FEDERAL CRIME?
The first thing you should do if you are about to be charged with a federal crime or have already been charged with one is to say nothing and set up a face to face meeting with a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney.
Talking to the federal authorities (FBI, DEA, ICE or any other federal entity) is almost always a huge mistake. Most of the time I see client’s cases who have made statements, the information they gave during the statement is usually the best evidence against them in the case.
If you sit down with a criminal defense attorney, then they can represent you and do the talking for you. They can also help you make the decision as to whether to speak to the authorities or not and if you do decide to speak to the federal prosecutors and their agents there are certain protections you can utilize to your advantage.
Being charged with a Federal crime is not to be taken lightly. Make sure you have a federal crime attorney in the San Fernando Valley, CA by your side in such a case.
LEARN WHAT A “QUEEN FOR A DAY AGREEMENT”
There are a number of scenarios where it makes sense in a federal case to actually sit down with your attorney and the federal government and answer their questions.
Sometimes they have a misconception about you and your culpability as it relates to federal criminal charges and this meeting gives you the chance to explain what is really going on with you. Other times you want to sit down with them to convince them to give you some sort of advantage or time off your sentence.
The “Queen for a Day” letter permits you to give them information and answer their questions without risking them using the information against you. This type of agreement says that anything that you say during your meeting with them is not allowed to be used against you in any criminal way.
The only way the feds can use a statement made during a “Queen for a Day” meeting is if they can show you lied to them or if you get on the witness stand in a future proceeding and say something different then you did during the meeting with the feds.
The point here is that you are not going to be able to make statements in the future that are inconsistent with the statement made under this particular agreement. In order to determine whether it makes sense for you to participate in a “Queen for a Day” session is to discuss it with your attorney and let him or her guide you through this process and the right decision for you.
During a “Queen for a Day” meeting, you are treading in dangerous water. Make sure you have an experienced federal crime attorney in Van Nuys, CA by your side in such a scenario.
BEST STRATEGY IF YOU HAVE A FEDERAL CASE IN THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY
If you are facing federal charges in a Central District of California Federal Court, your first move should be to hire a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney that has handled cases like yours to a successful resolution.
If you find an attorney that knows what they are doing, then you should go sit down with them with a list of questions and get clear on what you are up against and the potential defenses you may have. Once you are clear on what the parameters of your case are, then you will have a sense of control back and you can proceed to resolve your matter with confidence.
Our federal crime lawyers in the San Fernando Valley can clear away all your confusions and answer any questions you may have relating to your case. If you know what you are facing and what the steps are to achieve the best possible result for your case, then this sense of clarity will hopefully begin the process of getting this situation behind you.
I find that once a client comes and sits down with me and I explain to them how their case will likely be dealt with by the judge and prosecutor, invariably I notice that the client feels better and have a sense of calmness in knowing that now they can begin the process of putting their life back together.
Once a sound plan is structured between myself and the client, then it is just a matter of executing the plan and doing everything possible to achieve the best result. As a San Fernando Valley Federal crime attorney, I have done this for so many clients over the years.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT IN YOUR FEDERAL CASE?
The United States Federal Government is one of the most powerful and well financed in the world. Its criminal justice system is second to none. In order to match forces with them, you must have an attorney that has been around the block in the federal arena and had success!
Because of the sophistication level of the federal criminal justice system, the prosecutors and agents are typically very prepared and do a detailed job in the investigation and prosecution of a criminal case.
Thus, the answer to the question above is to find an attorney who is more prepared and seasoned than they are and provide him or her with the information necessary to properly defend your case. Over ninety percent of cases are resolved by way of a negotiated plea in the federal system. Hence your attorney better be familiar with how to negotiate your case and make sure you are in the best position when it comes time for sentencing.
At the Hedding Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced and confident in handling criminal cases in both state and federal court. If you are being charged with a crime in federal court, it is very important to retain the services of an experienced lawyer that is knowledgeable on all federal criminal laws and courtroom procedures.
We know how the system works and we know how to work the system. That being said, your best interest is our top priority. Call our office to schedule a meeting with our Federal crime attorney in Encino, CA.
HOW IT WORKS IN THE FEDERAL COURT SYSTEM
The initial step is an investigation that is conducted by federal agencies such as Homeland Security, the DEA, the FBI or some other federal agency. The results of the investigation are submitted to the federal prosecutor’s office where the prosecutor will evaluate the case and decide if further investigation needs to take place or if they are going to file a criminal case.
If the prosecutor believes that a crime has been committed, then they have options on how to proceed. If you already have a federal criminal defense attorney that represents you, then they will typically call the attorney and discuss the case and attempt to decide how to proceed.
If there is no attorney available to talk to, then they will usually send federal agents to arrest you and you will appear in federal court and can argue not to be detained while your case is pending.
Obviously having an attorney from the beginning of your case puts you in the strongest possible position to defend yourself and end up with the best possible result. When I am called by the federal prosecutors, after they decide to file a case, many times I am able to structure the entire case during that first conversation.
I can convince them to not make you post bail and work out a resolution that makes sense based on your circumstances. Other times, I can give them the defense’s position in the case and convince them not to file certain charges and deal with the case in a way that is best for my client.
WHAT ARE THE FEDERAL SENTENCING GUIDELINES?
In a federal criminal case the judge and attorneys on a particular case will use the federal sentencing guidelines to assist with determining the sentence in a particular case.
They are referred to as guidelines because the parties can argue for a higher or lower sentence than what the guidelines say and ultimately once the judge consults the guidelines, listens to the attorneys arguments, listens to the defendant and reviews the pre-sentence report, they can sentence the defendant with whatever sentence they deem appropriate.
This is why anyone entering the federal criminal arena must realize and respect their judges tendencies and hire an attorney, particularly a Federal crime attorney in the San Fernando Valley, CA, who can do what is necessary to assert your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for you.
These guidelines are typically adhered to by prosecutors and judges alike. They outline what the appropriate considerations and sentences are for all of the federal crimes and your attorney must be familiar with them and applied them to many cases in order to successfully represent you.
I find it important to go over the applicable guidelines in every case with my clients, so they know what they are up against and how we can combat the government and angle the case in our favor.
WORKING OUT A DEAL TO KNOW YOUR SENTENCE
In most state cases, if a person works out a deal with the prosecutors, they know exactly what their sentence will be before the judge ever says a word at the sentencing. In federal criminal cases, the defendant does not know what the sentence will be because ultimately it is up to the federal judge to make that final decision.
This may sound strange to most people, but it is how the system is set up and in most cases, it ends up working out OK for the defendant as long as they have mitigating circumstances on their side and their attorney does a good job in pointing out all of the mitigating factors related to their case.
Before a federal judge can sentence a person in a criminal case, they must take into consideration certain important sentencing vehicles. First, they must consult the sentencing guidelines as they relate to the particular case to be sentenced.
Further, they must consider the Pre-sentence Report that is prepared by the Federal Probation Department. And finally they will review the defendant’s sentencing position, the prosecutor’s position and listen to oral arguments at the sentencing before they pass judgment on the particular defendant.
The way the system is set up can sometimes work to the benefit of the defendant and other times to the benefit of the government. Another huge issue that i have seen over the past 25 years is that the judge who does the sentencing makes a crucial difference in what the ultimate sentence will be.
However, even the toughest of judges can be convinced of the defendant’s position if their attorney makes the right moves and presents the right evidence.
FEDERAL JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN CALIFORNIA
In California where I’m based out of, that’s in the Ninth Circuit, and those jury instructions are typically called the Manual of Model Criminal Instructions which came out in about 2010. That’s the one for the criminal.
So, the Ninth Circuit is basically what controls California and specifically Los Angeles, San Diego. So, if you’re going to do a trial in a federal court in Los Angeles, for example, they’re typically going to use what’s called the Model Criminal Jury Instructions that came out in 2010, and the judges will read those to the jury before the trial starts – sometimes even during the trial if they want to make a point – and even after trial.
These jury instructions are very important in federal court and in any federal case because they are pretty much the road map that’s given to jurors in a criminal case. If someone is charged with bank robbery for example, the judge in the end is going to give them all the elements that the prosecution – the Assistant United States Attorney – has to prove in order to prove the person guilty of bank robbery.
If they miss one element, they cannot prove the elements or one of the elements of a bank robbery case in that example, then the jury is going to have to find the defendant not guilty. Each defendant in federal court and most courts across the United States is presume innocent unless the prosecutors can prove them guilty.
So, with that presumption of innocence, if the jurors had their vote at the beginning of a federal case before they heard any of the evidence, they would obviously have to find the person not guilty because they hadn’t heard any evidence and there’s a presumption of innocence.
In addition, in the Ninth Circuit when it comes to these jury instructions, each of the elements and each of the charges in the indictment that is read to the jury before the case starts and that they’re going to be working off of as far as the charges, has to be proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
If there’s a reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind as to whether or not any of the elements were proved, then they’re going to have to find the defendant not guilty in federal court and all the state courts in California as well.
Are the Judges Permitted to Tailor a Jury Instruction Specifically for a Federal Charge?
Most of the time the judges are going to use those model rules that came out in 2010 when it comes to a federal criminal jury case. However, if there’s a special issue that comes up – and it does happen once in a while in a case – and there’s case law that covers that issue.
Sometimes I see judges modify the jury instructions or even give an additional jury instruction that’s not in the Model Rules to fit the case; to fit what the prosecution is claiming that the defendant did, or sometimes the defense can come up with their own jury instructions.
Of course it’s based on the law and based on the facts of the case, in order to show that there is a defense to the case and to show that the prosecutors have not proven the charges against them and they can argue in the closing argument that the jury should find the defendant not guilty.
They can then point to whatever Model Rule or whatever modified jury instruction that the judge gave and make the argument that the prosecution has not met their burden.
Contact a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
So, when it comes to jury instructions in federal cases, obviously it’s a very important subject whether you’re handling a case in the Ninth Circuit or anywhere across the country. You’re going to want to know what the Rules are.
You’re going to want to know what the law is and you’re going to want to be prepared from the beginning of the case to challenge and attack the elements of the crimes and let the jury know that the prosecution has not proven their case in the closing argument, because the jury is going to be read those jury instructions throughout the case and they’re going to be given a copy of the jury instructions to take back in with them in their deliberations.
They’re going to be read a whole long list of jury instructions before they go back to deliberate and decide a federal criminal case, and obviously, you want to be familiar with all those elements as a federal criminal defense attorney, and even as a defendant if you’re going to testify.
You’ll want to know exactly what the government has to prove in order to find you guilty in a case. So, you’re going to want to have that in your mind and you’re going to want to discuss with your attorney all the elements that have to be proven, and also any defense instructions that are going to be given.
So, when the prosecutor comes to challenge you and attack you on cross-examination, that you have the opportunity to know where they’re going to be attacking you from and to be able to best defend yourself and answer the questions in an honest, straightforward manner that covers those jury instructions.
Contact us to review your case. We have helped clients in similar cases over the years.