Philadelphia is one of the hardest legal systems in the nation to navigate. The courts here are flooded with litigation and some of the slickest lawyers in the country. This is because many federal lawyers start out as state attorneys. The state laws in Pennsylvania are incredibly complex and have some of the harshest penalties in the country. While states like New Jersey may have a few rules regarding post-conviction relief, Pennsylvania will have entire chapters, statutes, rules within rules, and case-law that further complicates everything.
These Pennsylvania state attorneys come into the Federal courts and complicate everything. They essentially make proceedings so frustrating that it is enough for any defense attorney to rip their hair out. If you are accused of a federal crime for guns, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, murder, rape, racketeering, bank fraud, computer crimes, or anything else that falls into federal jurisdiction, you need a skillful Federal Defense Attorney or law firm with decades of experience in federal court.
What Are the Risks of Not Hiring an Experienced Defense Attorney?
If you don’t hire a skilled defense attorney, you can and will become a victim of the federal conviction machine. Over 97 percent of federal cases end with a plea bargain. Like civil suits, the parties are able to assess the strengths of their cases and the evidence well before trial. Because so much of the litigation occurs before trial, you need a trial attorney who is skilled at preserving key issues for appeal. The higher up you go in the courts, the more likely you are to get justice.
The mentality of many trial judges is loose because they have their own bias about how the law should be applied. The appellate courts can be far more reasonable because they are not persuaded by the emotional drama that can unfold in a courtroom. They like to refine the jurisprudence into universal principles that could apply in any given situation. This type of neutrality and stoic scientific approach to law makes it easier for defendants to succeed on highly technical errors.
However, it works both ways. Because the appellate courts tend to be very abstract and technical, you can also waive valuable rights by committing hypertechnical errors. If you fail to file documents on time, fail to format a brief correctly, fail to cite proper authorities, fail to present key evidence, or fail to consider the big picture, you can throw away any hope of gaining ground.
A skilled federal defense attorney knows the ins and outs of litigation like the back of their hand. They are constantly researching changes in law and decisions that alter the law. This allows them to create a full defense that can expose any weaknesses or errors in the prosecution case. The advantage of a proficient defense attorney is priceless.
When they set out to win the battle, they can easily defeat prosecutors because their federal offices are backed up with heavy caseloads that make it hard for them to put the work into one single case. The attorney who puts the most work into the case is bound to gain some ground with compelling a very lenient plea bargain or succeeding at trial.
Overview of the Federal Criminal Process
In the federal courts, you can be prosecuted on the basis of a criminal information or indictment. These documents specify the charge that you are being prosecuted under formally. They are there to help you prepare a defense and to gather witnesses who may be able to undermine key elements. The indictment or information must be backed by supporting evidence. In most cases, it is the affidavit of the arresting or investigating officer reciting a narrative of what occurred and why you are culpable with reasonable certainty.
If you are able to prove that key elements of this narrative are false from the get-go, you can have the case thrown out right away. Evidence proving a rock-solid alibi or that the photo is not you can shoot down any attempts to vilify and suspect you of perpetrating the crime. If there is probable cause, however, you must face an arraignment where you are informed of your rights and the nature of the charges formally to plead guilty or not guilty.
The case will then be scheduled for trial or will end in a negotiated plea bargain that exchanges leniency for a formal admission of guilt. You need an expert attorney to guide you through every step of this process, or you may wind up as a trophy for an overzealous prosecutor even if you are innocent.