If you are facing allegations of federal crimes, you probably have a lot of questions about the legal process upon which you are about to embark. Federal criminal cases are significantly different from federal civil cases, and it is important to understand the distinction between these two. Further, although processes for federal drug crimes and other violations may resemble those held at the state level, there are some important distinctions. Let us address some of those differences to help criminal defendants learn more about their legal rights.
First, it is important to remember that criminal proceedings place the burden of proof squarely upon the government. We have all heard of the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra — that is of utmost importance in a federal crime courtroom. In civil cases, the defendant often must prove that the allegations are false. In criminal trials, the government must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt; that is a much stronger standard for evidence.
In federal cases, more than 90 percent of defendants choose to plead guilty instead of going to trial. Plea agreements allow federal prosecutors and defense attorneys to negotiate for a more lenient sentence than the one that would be imposed after a criminal trial. Judges typically wait for the results of a comprehensive presentencing report before issuing a sentencing decision. A defendant who pleads not guilty will proceed to a criminal trial.
Sentences for federal crimes often include fines, restitution or time in prison. Defendants may also be required to submit to supervision requirements, including drug testing and completing treatment programs. The fact is that no two Florida federal crime cases are the same; defendants need the advice of an experienced team of legal professionals in order to truly comprehend the nature of their alleged violations.
Source: United States Courts, “Criminal Cases” Sep. 15, 2014