NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 18th September 2023, 09:02 pm
What to Do if You Are Arrested by Federal Agents
Being arrested by federal agents can be an incredibly scary and overwhelming experience. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s natural to feel anxious and not know what to do next. This article will walk you step-by-step through the process and give you tips on how to handle the situation.
Try to Stay Calm
First things first—try to stay calm. Easier said than done, I know! But freaking out won’t help the situation. Take some deep breaths and tell yourself this will pass.
Don’t Resist Arrest
If federal agents want to arrest you, let them. Physically resisting arrest will only make the situation worse and could lead to additional charges. Keep your hands visible and don’t make any sudden movements. Follow their instructions calmly and slowly.
Don’t Answer Questions
You have the right to remain silent, so use it! Anything you say can be used against you, so it’s best not to answer any questions until you have a lawyer present. Be polite but firm in exercising your right to remain silent.
Simply say, “I am exercising my right to remain silent until I have an attorney present.” Then stop talking. You don’t have to answer any questions about where you were, what you were doing, etc.
Ask for a Lawyer Immediately
Ask for a lawyer right away. Say something like, “I will not answer any questions until I have a lawyer present.” Do not talk about the case with anyone except your lawyer.
Unfortunately, the police do not have to provide you with a lawyer if you cannot afford one. But requesting a lawyer is still important because it makes clear you are exercising your right to remain silent.
Don’t Consent to Any Searches
If the agents ask to search you, your car, or your home, politely decline. Say something like “I do not consent to any searches.” They may still be able to search you, but explicitly declining consent will help your case later.
Take Notes About the Arrest
As soon as you can, write down all the details you remember about the arrest—what the agents said to you, how they treated you, etc. This information could help your lawyer later.
Arrange Bail if Needed
If the agents take you into custody instead of just issuing a citation, you will likely need to post bail to be released while your case is pending. Bail is money or property that serves as collateral if you fail to appear for court dates. Ask your lawyer how to arrange bail.
Get Legal Help
Hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Look for someone with experience handling federal cases. A good lawyer will protect your rights, advocate for you, and make sure you understand the charges and possible penalties you’re facing.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, ask for a public defender to be appointed. Public defenders are lawyers appointed by the court to represent defendants who cannot afford private attorneys. Though public defenders have high caseloads, a dedicated public defender can provide skilled representation.
Common Federal Offenses and Penalties
Some common federal offenses you may be charged with include:
- Drug crimes – trafficking, distribution, possession. Penalties depend on the type and quantity of drugs. Can include long mandatory minimum prison sentences.
- Firearms offenses – possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, using a firearm in a violent crime, etc. Strict mandatory minimum sentences often apply.
- White collar crimes – fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion. Penalties vary based on amounts involved.
- Immigration violations – illegal entry, marriage fraud, etc. Can result in deportation.
Federal sentences tend to be harsher than state sentences. Talk to your lawyer to understand the specific charges and potential penalties you face.
Consider Taking a Plea Deal
Many federal cases end in plea bargains rather than going to trial. A plea bargain is an agreement where you plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge or reduced sentence. While you should not rush into any plea unadvised, carefully consider any plea deal offered by the prosecutor. Your lawyer can help negotiate.
Prepare for Your Trial if No Plea
If you do not accept a plea bargain, your case will go to trial. Your lawyer will handle pre-trial motions and filings. You may need to help locate evidence and witnesses to support any defenses.
Testifying at your trial is your choice – your lawyer can advise you whether it is strategically wise. If you do testify, be honest and stick to the facts. Prepare by practicing with your lawyer.
Understand the Sentencing Process
If you are convicted, your lawyer will help advocate for the minimum appropriate sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines. Factors include your criminal history, acceptance of responsibility, and assistance to the prosecution.
For some offenses, mandatory minimum sentences apply. This means the judge cannot go lower than a set sentence length. Mandatory minimums are highly controversial but may still apply.
Consider an Appeal if Convicted
If you are convicted at trial, you can appeal to a higher federal court. Appeals focus on legal and procedural issues – your lawyer can advise if you have grounds. While appeals rarely lead to an overturned conviction, it is an option.
Dealing with the Emotional Impact
Being arrested and prosecuted is highly stressful. It’s normal to feel scared, anxious, depressed, angry, and overwhelmed. Don’t bottle up emotions – talk to loved ones and consider counseling. Taking care of your mental health is crucial.
This will pass. With time, proper legal help, and support from loved ones, you can get through this.