As a result, the current justice system has turned into a system of plea bargains that are essentially commercial contracts. Very few defendants are challenging the cases against them before a jury because the prosecution will work hard to limit the evidence to whatever makes them look guilty. This win-at-all-costs mindset makes it dangerous for defendants to fight a prosecution without a strong federal criminal defense attorney who works in Albuquerque representing them.
Pre-trial is the New Trial
Because 97 percent of all federal criminal cases end in plea bargains, the pre-trial efforts of your attorney can be the key to success. This requires attorneys to obtain the best forensic experts and to hire the best investigators. There may even be video footage or other clear evidence of innocence preserved at the scene of the alleged crime that can spoil if you don’t act quickly.
Pre-trial motions can raise defenses such as entrapment as a matter of law, faulty charging documents, illegal search and seizure, lack of jurisdiction, lack of probable cause when cases are based too heavily on speculation, and a lack of evidence that will have the case dismissed. These issues can be preserved and then raised again in the appellate courts where it is easier to obtain justice.
In the very least, a skilled defense attorney can persuade the prosecutor to give the best plea deal possible to avoid the risks of losing at trial. Prosecutors can be sued when they lose if the prosecution was weak and appears malicious. In addition, the public may also begin to question the legitimacy of similar cases.
By hiring a skilled Albuquerque federal criminal defense attorney, you can make clear public records of the errors. This makes overzealous prosecutors nervous and makes them concerned about the collateral consequences of being unfair with you. Overzealous prosecutors may omit entire elements of an offense and walk right over you if you don’t have an expert in law to support you through the process. For, even if you see the error yourself, your opinions won’t be respected as those made by an expert defense attorney with years of experience.
Overview of the Federal Criminal Process
The federal criminal process begins once you are arrested and held over for a bail hearing. You may be taken before a judge immediately and offered an opportunity to post bail or in no more than 72 hours. The prosecutor will then have to establish probable cause within 10 days of your arrest even if you do bail out immediately.
Probable cause must be established by the four corners of the sworn police affidavit. It must provide a near certainty that you committed a crime and cannot be based on vague allegations that merely place you near the scene of a crime without more. A skilled Albuquerque criminal defense attorney can rebut the finding of probable cause and have the case thrown out at this point. Nevertheless, the prosecution can often refile the charges if they do come up with more evidence in the future.
In order to protect themselves from allegations of vindictive or malicious prosecution, some federal prosecutors will initiate a case by indictment rather than criminal information complaint. An indictment may involve a grand jury who must agree that the elements of a crime were made out, and that they support further proceedings. Nevertheless, if a defendant introduces indisputable evidence that undermines the case, the prosecution will be dropped.
The defendant is then arraigned and given a formal recitation of the charges and their rights. They will have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. The next phase is critical. Your attorney will have the chance to request general and specific evidence from the prosecutor that may prove your innocence.
Then, many pre-trial motions can be filed to limit the evidence admissible at trial. Finally, a trial or plea bargain will finalize the case and end with sentencing. Following the sentencing, some defendants may be eligible for a direct appeal process or post-conviction habeas corpus proceedings to rectify errors.