11 Apr 23

What Should You Do If You’ve Been Convicted of a Federal Crime?

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Last Updated on: 26th August 2023, 10:30 pm

Being convicted of a federal crime can be a deeply disorienting experience. You’ve spent all that time preparing your case and presenting your arguments, only for it to all come crashing down by the guilty verdict handed down by the jury. Whether or not you’re actually guilty is beside the point, as you now have to face the consequences. If you’re currently awaiting or on trial in federal court, you need to know what to prepare for in the event that you are found guilty.

Consider Your Lawyer Before Sentencing

Just because you’ve been convicted doesn’t mean that the arguing on your behalf ends. Even with a guilty verdict handed down, your case is still an ongoing process, and you still have the right to representation. It’s typical to have the same attorney who represented you during the trial to represent you at sentencing. However, you can choose to hire a different attorney. This could be done for various reasons, such as not trusting your current attorney’s ability to achieve a fair sentence or wanting to hire someone who is more experienced with these matters.

Prepare Your Arguments

Even if you’re not a lawyer, you will still need to make sound arguments to the judge about what your sentence should be. You shouldn’t ask for a specific sentence, particularly not any that are anywhere below the sentencing guidelines for your particular offense. You need to show the judge that you are committed to being a good citizen. Answer their questions honestly and respectfully. Address them as “your honor” and remember that they are not holding any sort of vendetta against you. They’re simply following the law and making their best possible judgment based on the circumstances of your case. The most you can do is show them the respect that they deserve.

Work On Your Appeal

The appeals process can be a saving grace for anyone convicted of a crime. If you are adamant about having your conviction overturned, you need to be working on your appeal as soon as possible. Work to obtain logs of the trial, from the opening statements to the reading of the verdict, from the court’s stenographer. Like with sentencing, you will need to decide if you want to continue on with your current lawyer or hire a new one. A new attorney can help by offering a new perspective on the case and being able to make arguments that your previous one wasn’t able to. The most important thing to do is to keep up with your appeal without burning yourself out. You’re not likely to get a guilty verdict turned over in a day or even a week. Keep up a positive attitude as you work toward a solution.

Get Your Affairs In Order

Upon conviction, the best you can hope for is probation or a suspended sentence. If you’ve been sentenced to serve time in a federal penitentiary, you have a lot to prepare for. Some sentences result in immediate transferring to the prison or another holding facility, while others allow for those convicted time to take care of personal matters. Your bank account will likely be frozen, but you will still need to get in touch with creditors about how to handle your debts during your sentence. You may entrust payment to another person, such as a family member. If you’re renting your home, you will need to find a way to end your lease early with your landlord to avoid having an eviction on your record. If you own, you will still be expected to make mortgage payments. Consider temporarily renting your home out to cover those expenses. You should also put money in your prison account to cover the cost of goods, such as food items, while incarcerated. Make sure to also review what personal items you’re allowed to keep with you while incarcerated.

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It’s unpleasant to think about being convicted of a federal crime. However, the pain of the aftermath can be reduced by being prepared for this scenario. By having your affairs in order and working on the appeal process, you can bring some hope into this dark time.

What Should You Do If You’ve Been Convicted Of A Federal Crime

A criminal conviction of any kind can be devastating. People who are convicted of a serious crime such as a felony may face all sorts of consequences. Felony convictions can bar people from entering certain professions and force them to surrender an existing professional license. Those who’ve been convicted of a federal crime may be facing additional penalties including years in prison and heavy fines. Hearing a guilty verdict can be astonishing and heartbreaking.

At the same time, now is the time to think about what’s going to happen next. If you are facing a conviction for a federal crime, you still have options within in the legal system. Now is the time to think about what you need to do immediately. While each case is different, in general anyone who’s been convicted should pay close attention to certain issues. You’ll want to think closely about making your case for the lowest possible sentence, considering the value of an appeal and perhaps even finding new legal counsel if you don’t feel you were served well by your current team.

The Sentencing Process

The sentencing process is hugely important. This is when you know how much time, if any, that you need to serve in prison. While judges need to act within certain guidelines, they are also free to add their own input based on their personal legal experience. When you go for sentencing, you’re going to be in front of the same judge who heard your case. This is the same person who listened to everything that was said including all legal evidence. If you’ve testified in front of them during them during the court trial, they may be familiar with your personality. You may have spent many hours in court watching their body language and hanging on to every word.

Now is the the time to work closely on your sentencing. At this point, if you haven’t spoken out before, you can speak in front of the judge and let them know more about you. You can tell them about your background, your education and what mistakes you might have made that led to this point. A conviction is a terrifying process. You may be feeling stunned in the aftermath of the verdict for weeks. At the same time, this hearing will give you an opportunity to plead your case in front an official with the power to determine course of the rest of your life. You’ll want to practice speaking calmly and controlling your emotions.

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The Appeal

A conviction is not necessary the end of your hopes. Many defendants choose to appeal their sentences. This option is not open to you automatically if you have plead guilty. The appeals process lets higher court officials examine the ruling of the previous courts. Keep in mind that any appeal will not focus on your guilt or innocence. The concern is whether or not an error was made during your trial in some way. The judges are looking to see that you were given a fair trial and all evidence that might indicate that you are not guilty was allowed to be entered into the record.

You can appeal on many grounds including lack of evidence and the behavior of a judge during your trial. For example, if the judge was clearly biased or incompetent or simply did not follow the laws as given, you can use this to appeal the conviction. There is another basis in which you can use to appeal. That’s if you were not given the right legal counsel during the trial. Ineffective legal counsel can have many potentially serious ramifications. If your lawyer did not present evidence in your favor, failed to investigate promising leads, did not offer you the kind of advice you needed or generally acted incompetently in some way such as failing asleep during the trial or showing up having drank too much, this can also be grounds for appeal.

Another Point of View

In the aftermath of a conviction, it’s a good idea to see if a change in legal counsel might be a good idea. Even if you are pleased with your lawyer right now, it may be useful to get another perspective. Another legal perspective can look at your case with much needed fresh eyes. They can help you decide if there’s grounds for appeal and on what basis. They can also offer help with other matters related to the appeal. Some lawyers actually specialize in this particular area of law. Working closely with a new legal voice can help you and the judge in your case see things in a new even if you have been convicted. All such considerations can turn your case around and help you begin a whole new life.