If you know you are under investigation by the federal government then the very best move you can make is to retain a federal criminal defense attorney. This changes the process quite a bit and gives you your best and only shot of resolving the case before formal charges are filed.
While this isn’t possible in every case, if there is a chance of getting your case resolved at this stage it is a chance you are absolutely going to want to take. It is the best way to minimize the damage to your life.
One thing that your attorney will do is launch a defense investigation that can try to figure out what’s going on and what exculpatory evidence exists. We can do this in a way that ensures you aren’t helping the federal government build their case against you. We can also start the discovery process so that we can get the evidence from the prosecutor.
Usually we resolve the case with the federal prosecutor via a plea bargain, but sometimes we can work out an immunity agreement of some kind in exchange for your cooperation. Sometimes you’re not really the person the government is after, but they’ll sweep you into the net because it helps them build their case.
Another advantage of working with an attorney at the investigation is your attorney will get the advance notice that you’re about to be indicted. This will give you a little bit of warning to get some affairs in order before the process begins if your lawyer is unable to work out a bargain prior to charges being filed.
Note that if we do enter a plea bargain the US Attorney can’t offer a specific sentence. In a federal case that falls to the sentencing judge, and they’ll do this after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines. This means we might be able to ballpark what you’re facing but you won’t know until you go before that judge.
Here’s a great resource if you’re interested in following the entire process of a federal criminal case.
Plea bargaining is still likely to be a better option than taking your case to trial. Only 2% of federal trial defendants get acquitted. The government’s resources are such that bargaining and negotiation are usually your strongest courses of action. Our goal during a plea bargain is to get you the best deal we can possibly get you given the facts of your case.