Any criminal charge is an intimidating prospect, but a person who is facing a charge in federal court may be on unfamiliar territory that can make the process downright scary.
For one, the federal courthouses in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Warrenton is located, is in Alexandria and other locations that will require travel.
Secondly, federal charges get prosecuted by the local United States Attorney’s office. Oftentimes, federal investigators are involved in the prosecution. Both have the reputation of being knowledgeable, highly trained and backed by ample financial resources.
The federal government frequently files charges in connection with major drug cases as well as financial crimes and other serious offenses.
A person charged in federal court should expect different rules and practices
Federal courts follow their own set of rules and practices. It is important for those in federal court to understand these rules and to follow them carefully. Someone who does not follow these rules may face negative consequences, including the permanent loss of important legal rights.
For example, in criminal cases, bail works differently than it would in the local state court. In federal court, a person may wind up being detained in custody until his or her trial. Those who do get admitted to bail may not have to post a lot of money, but they will likely have to follow several court-imposed conditions.
Federal crimes can carry with them more serious penalties than state charges
The laws of the United States also impose different, and oftentimes stricter, sentences than would the Virginia state courts for the same behavior.
Aside from the laws being different, the federal courts will also rely on established federal Sentencing Guidelines to determine an appropriate sentence.
It is important for a Virginian facing a federal charge to be aware of his or her options and the possible consequences of a conviction, as they can be very different from what one might expect.