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Federal laws and regulations are completely separate from state law. Federal charges arise due to investigations by one or more federal agencies including the F.B.I, D.E.A., A.T.F., U.S. Postal Service, etc. The various agencies investigate various different activities and commonly employ confidential informants, undercover officers, wire taps, video surveillance, and many other tactics. These investigations can span over years, and eventually end in an arrest. Immediately following the arrest, federal agents will attempt to question a defendant to get a confession. The best practice is not to speak to any federal agents about ANYTHING until you have an attorney present. Following the arrest, the court will conduct an initial appearance (within 24 hours). During this initial appearance, the judge will notify the accused of the charges that they have been arrested on, and advise them of their constitutional right to legal counsel.

Following the initial appearance, the court will hold a detention and probable cause hearing. The detention hearing is the opportunity to request bond, so that the judge can grant the accused release pending trial. This step is crucial because it is the best and sometimes only opportunity for an accused to secure release from confinement pending trial. Prior to the detention hearing, a pre-trial officer will interview friends and families members to determine if the accused has anyone that can serve as a third party custodian. The role of the third party custodian is to ensure that the accused will appear in court. During the detention hearing, the judge will listen to evidence and determine whether or not the accused is a danger to the community and/or flight risk. The judge can only deny the accused bond if there are no reasonable set of conditions that could protect the community and/or ensure that the accused will appear in court.

On the same day, the court will also conduct a probable cause hearing (if the accused has not already been indicted). During the probable cause hearing, a federal agent will briefly testify about the investigation that led up to the arrest. Defense counsel is given the opportunity to cross examine the officer in an effort to convince the court that the complaint should be dismissed due to the lack of probable cause. This stage is important because it allows the accused and defense counsel to get their initial understanding of the Government’s evidence. If the judge finds that the Government has met its burden, the case will continue and the Government will seek an indictment. If the Government secures an indictment the case will be set for arraignment. During the arraignment, the judge will read the charges that the accused has been indicted on, and the case is set for trial.

If you have been indicted or identified as a target of an investigation by federal authorities, you need to seek legal representation immediately. After an individual has been arrested for federal crimes, the court process moves very quickly. As a matter of fact, the Alexandria U.S. District Court is known as the “rocket docket”, due to how quickly the judges process cases.

The attorneys at The Simms Firm, PLC are experienced in defending a various types of federal cases. Attorney Simms has been commended and recognized by judges and attorneys for his superior trial skills and relentless defense of his clients. The Attorneys at The Simms Firm, PLC are very knowledge and experienced in dealing with each phase of federal litigation. Our knowledge of the U.S. Attorney’s personalities and tactics works to our clients benefit as we prepare their defense. Our knowledge of the judges and their legal tendencies is also a valuable asset.