Overview of the Federal Drug Crimes Court Process
There are two overlapping criminal justice systems in Florida, those based upon state law and others which proceed at the federal level. Both systems are very similar, but there are significant differences when it comes to criminal court procedures. For the 139,541 people arrested for federal drug crimes in Florida in 2018 – such as sale, manufacturing, and possession – that means the process was considerably more complicated. The procedural distinctions are just as crucial as the substantive laws on controlled substances, so even a slight error can mean the difference between a conviction or beating the charges.
As such, if you’ve been arrested for drug offenses under US law, you need a Florida federal drug crimes defense lawyer with in-depth knowledge and experience practicing within the relevant system. Your attorney can explain more about the criminal procedure for federal drug offenses, which includes:
Pre-Arrest Process: Every case is different, but there are some stages of the federal criminal process that take place even before you’re charged.
Investigation: Often, a federal drug case starts when officials become suspicious about alleged criminal activity. Agencies may collaborate to place you under investigation for weeks, months, or even years. During this time, federal agents are collective enough evidence to support an indictment. They employ highly sophisticated methods and have access to extensive resources, such as video and electronic surveillance, undercover agents, and wiretaps.
Grand Jury Indictment: Federal drug cases are more likely to go before a grand jury, though authorities can make arrests without this stage. A US attorney takes the information gathered during the investigation and presents it to a jury, seeking to demonstrate that there’s enough evidence to support drug charges – NOT a conviction. If the grand jury sides with the prosecutor, you could be indicted.
Pre-Trial Federal Criminal Court Proceedings: After being charged, there are several steps before a drug offense case goes to trial.
Arraignment and Detention Hearing: During this proceeding, the judge will read the official charges in court, explain your rights, and request that you enter a plea. The hearing also addresses whether you should remain in custody or released on bail pending your trial.
Pre-Trial Process: There are multiple proceedings that take place before trial, including:
- Plea bargaining;
- Pre-trial motions, such as requests to dismiss, compel evidence, and throw evidence out of court.
Federal Drug Crimes Trial: The final stage is the trial, where the prosecutor will present evidence and attempt to persuade the jury that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Your defense lawyer will also have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments, working to impress that shadow of a doubt in jurors’ minds.
Get in Touch with a Florida Federal Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Right Away
The federal criminal process for drug crimes is complex if you don’t have a legal background, so it’s wise to trust a skilled federal drug offenses lawyer to assist with your case. You’re in a better position to obtain a favorable result when you have experienced counsel on your side, so please contact Fort Lauderdale drug crimes attorney Kevin J. Kulik to hear how we can help. We’re happy to schedule a free consultation to review your circumstances and explore defense options.