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How does the pretrial stage work in federal investigations?

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2022 | Federal Crime

Many California residents feel uneasy upon finding out they are the subject of a federal investigation, and with good reason. Federal crimes often bring with them lofty penalties, and if the allegation against you leads to a conviction, you may face jail time, steep fines and other possible penalties.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that such an investigation is part of something called the “pretrial stage” in a federal investigation. While every federal case is different, you may find that you have to take part in the following during the pretrial stage.

The initial appearance and arraignment

Your initial appearance typically takes place within 72 hours after an arrest or indictment. If no arrest or indictment took place, then the initial appearance involves presenting yourself to a magistrate who decides if there is enough probable cause to make an arrest. After hearing the charges against you, the court may decide to release you for the time being – or it may request that you return to custody. Then, at your arraignment, you have a chance to issue a plea to the charge you face.

Discovery and plea bargaining

The discovery and motions process takes place after your arraignment, but ahead of your trial. During this time, both sides gather more information and prepare their cases for trial. In some cases, you may have the option of making a plea bargain. This often involves you agreeing to plead guilty to the offense you face in exchange for some type of concession from the prosecutor.

The court may decide not to accept your proposed plea agreement. Under these circumstances, your case typically moves on to the trial phase.