Get Answers to Common Questions Now
Our clients have many of the same fears and concerns. To get started, we’ve compiled answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about Federal, Florida DUI and criminal law, covering a wide range of topics to help each client understand the potential implications and options of many legal situations.
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How much does it cost to hire a federal criminal defense attorney?
What is the price of freedom? You may be willing to pay anything to avoid federal prison, but you have to be smart about hiring the best federal defense attorney you can afford. We take a look at what you can expect to pay an attorney when you have been charged with a federal criminal offense in Florida.
If You Can’t Afford an Attorney, One Will Be Provided for You
You should have been informed of this right at the time of your arrest, but what does it mean? If you meet the income qualifications established by the jurisdiction in which you have been charged, you will get a court-appointed attorney at no charge to you. Federal public defenders are often some of the most qualified attorneys in a district, and will definitely be better than the cheap, inexperienced lawyer your brother-in-law finds for you. If your income does not qualify for free assistance, you will have to shop around for an attorney you can afford. Some factors that will affect the cost of an attorney include the following:
Complexity of the Case
If your attorney hires investigators and experts to support your defense, you can expect to pay more. Likewise, the more time a case takes to resolve, the more expensive it is going to be.
Skill and Experience of the Attorney
In other words, you get what you pay for. However, you can’t assume that just because an attorney is expensive, he is good. You still need to do your research and ask important questions to find the best attorney for you.
Whether the Case Goes to Trial
If your case goes to trial, the attorney and his team will be putting in many additional hours, and you will have to pay for those hours.
The bottom line is, you should hire the best attorney you can afford, and you will have to put in some time to find the right match for you.
We Are Always Up Front About Our Fees
At the Izquierdo Law Firm, we won’t quote a fee until we look at the unique facts and circumstances of your case and determine what stage of the proceedings your case is in. We try to be fair when quoting fees and take into account how much time will be required, given the nature and circumstances of your case.
Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?
What is the difference between a state white collar crime and a federal white collar crime?
The term “white collar crime” applies to a variety of non-violent financial crimes committed by professionals who are often positioned inside the institution from which they are stealing. These crimes include embezzlement, identity theft, money laundering, insider trading, mail and wire fraud, and tax evasion. Investigations into these crimes can be conducted by local or state authorities—resulting in state charges—or by federal authorities such as the FBI—resulting in federal charges. It is important to understand who is charging you because the consequences you face could be dramatically different.
When Does a White Collar Crime Come Under Federal Jurisdiction?
The perpetrator of a white collar crime has often broken both state and federal laws. Whether state or federal prosecutors pursue the charges depends on the specific situation. If the criminal activity takes place in more than one state, the charges will likely come from federal authorities. For example, wire or mail fraud could be charged as a federal crime if the defendant has targeted victims outside of Florida. Investigations into suspected white collar criminal activity can be initiated by either local or state police or by the FBI and could be passed from one authority to the other at any point. A white collar crime that involves a great deal of money or many victims could be upgraded to a federal charge even if it does not cross state lines.
Does it Matter Whether I am Charged in State or Federal Court?
Because the consequences for federal crimes can be much more severe than the consequences for the same crime at the state level, it does matter which court is charging you. In addition, not all criminal defense attorneys take federal cases. If you are being investigated for a white collar crime in Florida, you should be working with an attorney who handles both state and federal cases. When you meet with Attorney Daniel Izquierdo for a free 4-Point Case Evaluation and Defense Strategy Session, he will help you understand the differences between state and federal charges and will be prepared to defend you in either court. If possible, he will fight to keep your charges in state court to avoid harsh federal sentencing requirements.
Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?
What to Expect During Your Initial Appearance in Federal Court?
After you surrender or are arrested by federal law enforcement, you will immediately (usually within 24 hours) be brought before a United States Magistrate Judge for your initial appearance (this may also be referred to as 'first appearance'). You should note that initial appearances occur before a Magistrate Judge and take place the business day after the arrest or surrender. At this hearing the judge will read, explain, or list the offense(s) that you are being charged with. You will be informed of your rights and the judge will ask whether you are able to hire a lawyer to represent you or if you would need a court-appointed lawyer. In order to have a lawyer appointed by the court, you will have to qualify for one based on your responses to the court’s questions and by demonstrating a need given a lack of financial resources to retain counsel.
If you have already hired a federal criminal defense attorney to represent you, they will likely appear on your behalf at the initial appearance and inform the court as to the scope of representation (i.e. whether they’re representing you for the initial appearance and bond purposes or if they are entering a permanent appearance to be your lawyer through the end of the case).
In addition to sorting out that you are the person named on the criminal charging document as well as who your legal counsel will be, the court will then address the issue of bond. At the initial appearance you can either receive a bond and be released (either one set by the Magistrate Judge or as part of an agreement between your lawyer and the government), or the government may ask for pretrial detention. In this case, a detention hearing will usually be set no later than five (5) days from the date of your initial appearance.
If you are here today because you feel frustrated about an upcoming initial appearance in federal court or issues having to do with bond and pretrial release and it is disrupting your life, we should talk.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
Target, Subject and Witness, what does it all mean?
One of things of incredible importance when you are under federal criminal investigation is your status in the investigation. The federal government classifies people in three ways: Targets, Witnesses and Subjects.
Let’s talk about the different statuses and what each means for you.
- Target – The status you most have to worry about is that of the ‘target’. This means that the prosecution has its sights set on you as the target of the investigation. If the prosecutor feels as though a crime was committed and you are the person they feel committed the crime, they will work their investigation with the primary objective of being to build a case against you.
- Witness – The witness in a federal investigation typically has very little exposure to facing formal charges. Being a witness is the preferred place to be if you must be enveloped in a federal investigation in the first place. Federal prosecutors may believe that you have information that can help them. You may have seen something take place or you may have documents relating to their case that can help them.
- Subject – This status falls in-between the previously discussed statuses of a witness or target. Being a subject is delicate because, while prosecutors may not be gunning for you, your status as a subject likely means that you may have done something wrong in their eyes.
If you are under federal investigation, it is important to keep in mind that your status during the course of the investigation may change. As the government investigates its case and gathers evidence you can move from a witness to a subject or from a subject to a target, or even move downward from a target to a subject or subject to a witness.
Anyone involved in a federal investigation will be well-served by contacting a federal criminal defense lawyer to help protect their interests. Your lawyer can reach out to the prosecutor and gather information about your status in the investigation and possibly what conduct they are looking into. It is helpful to know, especially at the beginning, how the government has classified you.
Learning where you stand can provide some peace of mind. However, it is important to remember that an investigation is fluid and that your status may change. An attorney may be able to ensure that your status stays where it is if that is favorable to you and can also work with the prosecutor to convince them that you should not be a target or a subject but merely a witness.
If you are here today because you feel frustrated about being caught up in a federal investigation and it is disrupting your life, we should talk.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?