What happens in the federal justice system after I’ve been arrested?

When you’ve been arrested for a federal crime, the first thing you should consider is legal counsel. Regardless of your situation, an experienced criminal defense attorney will protect you and ensure that your ability to defend your case is not compromised. You should make known your desire to have an attorney as soon as possible, which should be immediately. If you are starting to be questioned, especially after your Miranda Rights are read to you, it is crucial that you do not say anything before you speak with legal counsel.

After you’ve been arrested on a federal warrant, you will be booked in by the U.S. Marshals. They will take your photograph and get your fingerprints. Within a reasonable amount of time, you will be taken before a United States Magistrate Judge for your initial appearance, arraignment, and detention hearing. At the initial appearance, the judge will make sure that you have received a copy of the charges against you and ask if you understand those charges.  

Next, the judge will ask if you are ready to proceed with your arraignment. The arraignment is the time when you enter your plea to the charges. It is the normal course at arraignment for a defendant to enter a plea of Not Guilty.

Last, you are entitled to a detention hearing. At the detention hearing, the judge will determine if there are conditions or a combination of conditions to allow you to remain out of custody pending your trial. The two factors at issue are: (1) flight risk and (2) danger to the community. If the government does not make a request to detain, then you likely will be put on conditions of pretrial supervision. However, if the government moves to detain you pending trial, you must prepare to put forth evidence, and likely witnesses, to persuade the judge that you are not a flight risk or a danger to the community. It is not unusual for the defense to seek a continuance of 3 to 5 days to prepare for the detention hearing. The judge will issue a temporary order of detention and you will remain in custody until your detention hearing.

It is important to talk to your attorney regarding detention so you can gather everything needed to put on a strong case for pretrial release. You only get one shot at your detention hearing, so you have to be prepared. Sometimes, there may be holds from other agencies, such as an immigration hold, or if you were arrested at the state level, and brought into federal custody on a writ, the court will not release you because of the hold. In such circumstances, a defendant will usually waive their detention hearing, but reserve their right to have the detention at a later time if circumstances change.

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Law Office of Kevin B. Ross, P.C.

Texas criminal defense attorneys Kevin B. Ross and Kristen Beckman bring a team approach to the Law Office of Kevin B. Ross, P.C., a Dallas criminal defense law firm that provides PROFESSIONAL, PERSONAL, and PROVEN representation to people in Texas who are accused of state and federal criminal offenses. We believe everyone deserves the strongest and most effective defense possible. The firm represents clients across Texas who are charged with crimes ranging from federal white-collar crimes to state drug charges, DWIs to murder, and everything in between.

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