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What Happens If You're Charged with a Federal Drug Crime?

You may be prosecuted under either state or federal criminal law if you’re suspected of having committed a drug offense such as drug trafficking, manufacturing, or possession. After being charged, it’s essential to contact an attorney in Rockville as soon as possible. Your attorney can explain the nature of the charges against you and what you can expect from the next steps in the legal process.

Initial Hearing
After the investigation concludes and you have been charged with a federal drug crime, your attorney will represent you at the initial hearing or arraignment. This hearing typically takes place on the same day that you’ve been charged or the day after. At this point, the judge will decide whether to grant bail or to order you held in jail until your trial. To Federal Drug Crime Near Rockville make this decision, the judge may consider factors such as any prior criminal convictions and the specifics of the alleged crime.

Pre-Trial Proceedings
Well before your case goes to trial, your attorney is busy behind the scenes developing strategies for your defense. Before a trial, both parties go through discovery, which is a process during which information is gathered and witnesses are interviewed. The federal prosecutor may decide to extend a plea deal. If you accept, you agree to plead guilty. It is possible that the judge may impose a more lenient sentence. If you do not accept a plea deal, your attorney will represent you at a preliminary hearing. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine that there is enough evidence to charge you with the offense. These hearings are sometimes waived.

Trial
During the trial, the prosecutor presents evidence, including physical evidence and witness testimony, designed to convince the jury that you did commit the crime. Your attorney will tell your side of the story using the same type of evidence.

Sentencing
If the jury finds you guilty, you will be sentenced at a separate hearing, usually after a few months. Federal judges evaluate sentencing guidelines, statements from victims, and the pre-sentence report before imposing a sentence. Even after you have been sentenced, you may ask your attorney to appeal your verdict to the Circuit Court.

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