State and Federal Cases
Federal court has different criminal statutes and rules than State court. The prosecuting authority is the federal prosecutor. The law enforcement officers are the FBI, the IRS, the DEA, the BATF and the Secret Service, among other federal agencies. Sounds intimidating, and it is. A person faced with federal prosecution or federal grand jury proceedings should seek experienced counsel.
Even though the law permits a person charged with a crime to represent himself, a person charged with a felony should consider getting a lawyer. Felonies are serious crimes with serious penalties. A criminal record, once obtained, creates many problems. A lawyer can make sure the accused person’s point-of-view is well represented in this confrontational criminal justice system, with the goal of acquittal always in mind.
Misdemeanors are significant. People can be sentenced to jail or prison for misdemeanor convictions. Many times punishment includes a driver’s license suspension. A lawyer can properly advise a person charged with a misdemeanor on the best course of action. Some cases need to be tried, and some cases should be “plea bargained” to minimize the damage. Sometimes it is best to take advantage of any available “pre-trial diversion” type of programs.
Driver’s license suspension cases or “no license” cases need to be addressed as they arise. Ignoring the problem leads to more license suspensions and higher and higher BMV “reinstatement fees”. Sometimes the BMV will declare a person a “habitual traffic offender” and suspend a person’s license for five (5) or ten (10) years. Continued driving can result in felony charges, and a lifetime suspension. A lawyer can help a person navigate the BMV and court system to avoid these problems, and even possibly get a license reinstated.
Sometimes children (people under eighteen) are charges with crime, sometimes in adult court, sometimes in juvenile court. Kids have rights too, and a lawyer can work for his juvenile client to see that his client is treated fairly.
There are remedies still available to a person convicted of a crime. Convictions can be appealed to a higher court. A person can seek “post-conviction relief” even if the higher court has denied the appeal. The law almost always leaves a path to follow to correct serious injustice. An experienced lawyer can guide a person who has been tried and convicted along the path to a new day in Court. A civil judgment for money, custody, or declaring matters, can also be appealed. There are, however, serious obstacles in the way, including rather strict time limits. A person should not delay in seeking advice on which way to turn.
Under some circumstances a sentence or judgment of conviction in a criminal case can be sealed or modified to the client’s benefit. It is useful to have a lawyer present the person’s case in the best light to the judge and prosecutor.