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Understanding the Federal Court Process

March 21, 2024

In the United States, criminal prosecutions can be held at either the state or the federal level. Federal criminal cases can begin when one of two scenarios occurs. The first is that an individual files a criminal complaint. The second is that an individual is indicted for a crime.

criminal complaints are documents prepared by the United States Attorney’s office alongside whatever federal law enforcement agency conducted the investigation of the case. Some of the most common entities are the Secret Service, FBI, and IRS. The complaint will be presented to a federal judge. When the judge reviews the facts outlined in the complaint, they will decide whether there is an indicator that a federal crime has been committed by the person being charged.

It’s impossible to convict a person based purely on a criminal complaint. The complaint isn’t a case against them, and the judge’s determination of probable cause isn’t the same as a guilty verdict. The judge is merely determining whether there’s enough evidence that the person might have committed the crime to investigate further. When the complaint has been approved and filed, the defendant will be notified, and the government is given thirty days to present their findings to a grand jury. If the grand jury decides there’s probable cause, they can indict the person.

When an entity or individual is indicted, a formal criminal charge has been brought against them. Indictments are handed out by grand juries. Grand juries are twenty-three citizens who are tasked with hearing preliminary evidence in federal court. These people will then deliberate about whether sufficient evidence has been provided to show that a crime might have been committed. The deliberations of a grand jury are held in secret. When the grand jury decides there’s enough evidence to proceed with a criminal charge, they will vote for an indictment. The office of the US Attorney will prepare the indictment document and present it to the federal court.

When the indictment has been filed, there’s now a clear way for the criminal case to proceed. Federal law states that after the filing of an indictment and the awareness of the defendant, there is a seventy day period in which the case must go to trial. This short time period is a very busy one. The government is required to provide the defendant and the defense attorney with all of the gathered evidence and other materials.

Once all the evidence has been provided to the attorney, they and their client will review the details of the case. The attorney will explain the scope of the situation, the options going forward, and the strategies they might employ. Each case will be slightly different, so an experienced lawyer who can analyze and plan is essential.

One of the options is for the defense attorney to file court motions. A motion is a formal request that the court provides an inquiry regarding a particular matter or investigates the methods by which certain documents were obtained. This motion is typically filed if there’s a suspicion that the information was acquired through means that aren’t legal. Illegally acquired information is not admissible to be used in court.

When the discovery is complete, the court has ruled on all filed motions, and preliminary hearings have been held, the case will go to trial. Trials in the federal court are prosecuted by the government. The federal government is responsible for proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed the crime. All federal prosecutions are tried before a panel of twelve jurors.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

In addition to the prosecution presenting their case, the defense will also have a chance to question the prosecution’s witnesses, challenge the evidence, provide new evidence in the defense, and call their own witnesses.

Rather than being a majority vote, the panel of jurors cannot come back with a guilty verdict until all twelve of them are certain that the defendant is guilty. If even one of the jurors is unconvinced, they must either continue deliberating until all are in agreement, or they must give a not guilty verdict. Though the trial process begins within seventy days of the filed motion, the actual trial can last for anywhere from a couple months to several years. It all depends on the crime being tried, the amount of evidence, and the number of witnesses.

At any point during this process, the defendant has the option to plead guilty. This means that they admit to having committed the crime and submit to the sentencing of the court. There are also some cases in which the federal government offers a plea bargain, in which the defendant has the option to plead guilty to lesser charges and serve a reduced sentence.

All available options should be discussed between the defendant and their attorney.

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Todd Spodek

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RALPH P. FRANCHO, JR

Associate

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JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

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ELIZABETH GARVEY

Associate

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CLAIRE BANKS

Associate

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RAJESH BARUA

Of-Counsel

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CHAD LEWIN

Of-Counsel

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