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.
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
make this decision, the judge may consider factors such as any prior criminal
convictions and the specifics of the alleged crime.
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.
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.
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.