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Understand the federal criminal justice process

The federal criminal justice system is a mystery to many people who are facing charges. This can make it difficult to determine what they need to do. It is imperative for you to have an idea of the process so that you are armed to aim for the best result in your case.

One thing that you can’t do is rely on what you’ve seen on television or in the movies as your source of information. Instead, learn the facts.

3 stages

The federal criminal justice process is divided into three stages. The first is the pretrial stage. The second is the trial. The third is the post-trial proceedings. In each of these stages, there are multiple steps and considerations.

First stage

You might not even realize when the first stage begins. Your arrest is actually one of the last steps in this stage. Before the arrest is the investigation and a journey through the grand jury. These are both important steps.

In this stage, it is determined if a crime actually falls under federal jurisdiction. There is a chance that some crimes, even murder, might fall under the state’s jurisdiction. Charging you in the correct court is important since it can have a direct impact on the way the case is handled.

Once you are arrested, you will be arraigned and will go through a few court appearances. You will have to enter your plea in court. You will also have to go through a pretrial process that might include court hearings.

During this stage, you may be able to work out a plea bargain. This is actually how many federal cases are resolved. Some defendants opt to not go up against a federal prosecutor in a trial so they work out a deal that bypasses the trial.

Second stage

The trial phase includes everything from the selection of jurors through the sentencing phase. This stage of the process usually involves your having to be in the courtroom. The trial will be in front of a jury of your peers who will decide if you are guilty or not guilty of the charges that were levied against you.

At the end of the trial phase comes the sentencing phase if the person was convicted. Before the court hands down a sentence, a probation officer conducts an investigation to help the court. This, along with the convictions, will be used to determine the sentence that will be imposed.

Third stage

In the third stage, which occurs after the sentencing, people who were convicted and sentenced have a right to appeal. This is usually done with the hope of being able to have a conviction vacated or a sentence changed. This process is very involved. It must be handled with care and in accordance with strict time limits.

2020-07-16T18:06:22+00:00February 7th, 2018|Federal Crimes|

TESTIMONIALS

The moment finally came when I saw Jay walk down the stairs in the court room, he flashed me a thumbs up and I knew... I knew I won. If you need a lawyer do not hesitate to call Houston & Alexander. There is no one that will represent you better anywhere in Chattanooga. I wholeheartedly give them five stars. - Antonio
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUIs and other charges. I was not sure where to turn and called Houston and Alexander. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence net result was I was able to keep my family together. -Colleen
We've been clients of Houston & Alexander for three years, with Bret Alexander representing us during that time. I can't speak highly enough of his integrity, professionalism, and his dedication to our legal needs. We are so grateful for his guidance and effectiveness through such a difficult time. He's an attorney you can trust and depend on to do the right thing. We are sincerely so grateful. Thank You! - Trish
I am a Desert Storm veteran and found myself in need of legal counsel. Everyone from the receptionist to the attorney himself treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I found them to be knowledgeable and most helpful. I would recommend Houston and Alexander for all your legal needs. Thank you for all of your help. - C Pugh
I won't go into specifics because they are very embarrassing for my family. But if you have a daughter who has been criminally charged with a serious charge, Johnny Houston should be your go-to gentleman. Because of his hard work, and diligence in our case, we can once again hold our heads High and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you Johnny Houston from the bottom of our hearts! -Karen A.
My son made a couple of mistakes and was faced with having a criminal record. Mr. Houston stepped in and provided us with excellent representation. My son will NOT have a record now and is looking forward to the future. I also can't say enough about the staff at Houston & Alexander. Always responsive and informative and really went the extra mile. I cannot recommend them enough! - Alice
Due the stress of this pandemic and the loss of employment, my wife and I got into an argument and I ended up getting arrested and charged with domestic violence. I could not go home, could not have any contact with my wife and had no place to live. An elected official/friend referred me to Johnny Houston and his law firm. Due to Johnny's efforts, not only did we get into court quickly, but all charges were dismissed. We are back together now and I am getting this expunged. Thank you, Johnny! - Client
I had too much to drink one night and backed into another car. I was charged with second offense DUI and felony reckless endangerment. I was at a real low point in my life and my husband had recently passed away. Johnny was able to get the felonies dismissed and I pled guilty to a first offense. Instead of facing significant jail time and a felony, I did a few days in jail and wore an alcohol monitor. Johnny was able to humanize me with the DA and I was able to get my life back on track again. Great law firm! You would be crazy to go anywhere else. - Karen M.
I am a college student. I was involved in a wreck and was charged with DUI and leaving the scene. I thought I was ok to drive but my blood result said otherwise. A DUI conviction would have really hurt my chances of getting a good job. Johnny and Bret told me I had a difficult case and the only guarantee they gave was that they would work hard for me. They NEVER gave up on my case and ultimately persuaded the arresting officer and the DA to reduce the charge. If YOU need help on a DUI or any other case, call them! These men are not only hard working but kind. - Kate
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUI and other charges. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence. I kept my house and my family intact! I have turned my life around and things are great! Johnny did not forget about me once the case was over, either. I needed some additional help with my license and Johnny jumped right on it. - Colleen
Johnny and Bret took my case and treated me like a person, not a number. I was looking at a long prison sentence (10+ years). These guys stepped in, calmed me down, and told me that they were going to be there for me. When you first walk in their office, you have that at home feeling. With Mrs. Wanda, a very welcoming atmosphere. They really treat you like family here. I would recommend Mr. Houston and Mr. Alexander to anyone who needs their service. You will not go wrong with these guys. THEY KNOW THE LAW!!!! - WARDELL
We were from out of town and had no friends or family in the area. Things got out of control and the next morning we were arrested and charged with Felonies. In my opinion, we were over charged. We called Johny and he agreed to meet with us right away. Johnny was attentive and listened. Facing possible jail time and the loss of my husband,s job we were terrified. Johnny literally rescued us! He took the lead, met with the DA and the alleged victim, and really smoothed things over. Johnny was confident and appeared to get along well with the Prosecutors and Judges. We were very fortunate to find Johnny. - Tana

TESTIMONIALS

The moment finally came when I saw Jay walk down the stairs in the court room, he flashed me a thumbs up and I knew... I knew I won. If you need a lawyer do not hesitate to call Houston & Alexander. There is no one that will represent you better anywhere in Chattanooga. I wholeheartedly give them five stars. - Antonio
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUIs and other charges. I was not sure where to turn and called Houston and Alexander. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence net result was I was able to keep my family together. -Colleen
We've been clients of Houston & Alexander for three years, with Bret Alexander representing us during that time. I can't speak highly enough of his integrity, professionalism, and his dedication to our legal needs. We are so grateful for his guidance and effectiveness through such a difficult time. He's an attorney you can trust and depend on to do the right thing. We are sincerely so grateful. Thank You! - Trish
I am a Desert Storm veteran and found myself in need of legal counsel. Everyone from the receptionist to the attorney himself treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I found them to be knowledgeable and most helpful. I would recommend Houston and Alexander for all your legal needs. Thank you for all of your help. - C Pugh
I won't go into specifics because they are very embarrassing for my family. But if you have a daughter who has been criminally charged with a serious charge, Johnny Houston should be your go-to gentleman. Because of his hard work, and diligence in our case, we can once again hold our heads High and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you Johnny Houston from the bottom of our hearts! -Karen A.
My son made a couple of mistakes and was faced with having a criminal record. Mr. Houston stepped in and provided us with excellent representation. My son will NOT have a record now and is looking forward to the future. I also can't say enough about the staff at Houston & Alexander. Always responsive and informative and really went the extra mile. I cannot recommend them enough! - Alice
Due the stress of this pandemic and the loss of employment, my wife and I got into an argument and I ended up getting arrested and charged with domestic violence. I could not go home, could not have any contact with my wife and had no place to live. An elected official/friend referred me to Johnny Houston and his law firm. Due to Johnny's efforts, not only did we get into court quickly, but all charges were dismissed. We are back together now and I am getting this expunged. Thank you, Johnny! - Client
I had too much to drink one night and backed into another car. I was charged with second offense DUI and felony reckless endangerment. I was at a real low point in my life and my husband had recently passed away. Johnny was able to get the felonies dismissed and I pled guilty to a first offense. Instead of facing significant jail time and a felony, I did a few days in jail and wore an alcohol monitor. Johnny was able to humanize me with the DA and I was able to get my life back on track again. Great law firm! You would be crazy to go anywhere else. - Karen M.
I am a college student. I was involved in a wreck and was charged with DUI and leaving the scene. I thought I was ok to drive but my blood result said otherwise. A DUI conviction would have really hurt my chances of getting a good job. Johnny and Bret told me I had a difficult case and the only guarantee they gave was that they would work hard for me. They NEVER gave up on my case and ultimately persuaded the arresting officer and the DA to reduce the charge. If YOU need hel