San Antonio Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
The Role of a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been arrested, investigated, approached by a federal law enforcement officer, received a grand jury subpoena, or have been asked by a federal agent for an interview, you need to move quick. The Law Office of Guillermo Lara Jr. has you covered. Federal crimes are not like any other crimes and our attorney is here to protect your reputation, freedom, money, career, property, and strategically get you through this nightmare.
Attorney Lara has gone through more federal criminal defense jury trials in the last 3 years than any other federal lawyer in San Antonio. Most attorneys go their entire careers without a federal trial, but Attorney Lara works your case like it should be done. Is your case in another State? Not a problem for Attorney Lara, who has fought large scale Federal cases in New York, Chicago, Alabama, and Florida.
The Law Office of Guillermo Lara Jr. is prepared to defend you if you have been accused of breaking federal law or violating the constitution in any state. The Federal Criminal Justice system is different than the Texas State system and the punishment in the Federal Criminal system is more severe. From understanding how federal investigations are conducted to how do the feds calculate your sentence, every part of dealing with the feds takes years of experience to master. Call Guillermo Lara Jr. today because he is very selective on who he represents.
If you received a letter from any Federal agency asking you to reach out to talk, you need to move quick. Did you already have that letter for a week or two and now you’re concerned they’re going to kick in your door? It’s not too late to call us to calm your nerves and get ahead of the investigation.
A Federal target letter is basically notice from the Federal Prosecutor that the recipient is the “subject” of a federal investigation. This doesn’t mean you are going to be arrested but it does mean that you need a federal criminal defense lawyer before you make your next move. The letter is basically a heads up that they know something is going on and want you to connect the dots for them.
What Is a Grand Jury Subpoena?
A grand jury subpoena is an order that commands the person who receives it to produce books, documents, hard drives, data, media, or whatever the subpoena is requesting. It is also an order that instructs the person receiving it to appear before the grand jury.
Can you ignore a grand jury subpoena from a federal court? You can hire and consult with a federal criminal lawyer to help guide your answer to that question and help you navigate the smartest course of action to be taken.
What Happens After the Federal Arrest Warrant Is Issued and Served?
The answer to this depends. In some federal criminal cases, the Warrant is sealed, and you won’t know it exists. The difference between the federal criminal system and the state system is that in most cases Federal Agents/U.S. Marshalls will not disclose that the Federal Warrant is active or that an indictment is active. Part of the reason why this is done with the Feds is that they are trying to prevent panic and preparation from the defendant. The element of surprise is key for agents serving warrants. A laundry list of reasons why warrants are not disclosed exist, but for now our focus is on what happens after someone is arrested on a Federal Warrant and taken for processing.
- Initial Appearance - If you are arrested for a federal criminal case in San Antonio (Western District of Texas) you will be taken to the United States Federal Court House at 262 W. Nueva Street San Antonio, Texas 78207. This is where you will be taken for your Initial Appearance. During a Federal Initial Appearance, a U.S. Magistrate Judge will inform you of your right to a preliminary hearing and detention hearing. The Judge will also advise you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. If you or your loved one is arrested early in the morning, you should be scheduled for the court’s afternoon docket. If you are in San Antonio, you will see one of three Magistrate Judges. We have three fair, knowledgeable, and intelligent Magistrate Judges in San Antonio. You can see a list of San Antonio Criminal Judges here https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/judges-information/judges-directory-biographies/. We recommend reaching out to hire an attorney as soon as possible. It’s important that the defendant understands that certain important steps will take place immediately after the initial appearance, which will set the stage for an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to argue for a bond at the detention hearing. Your attorney will get a chance to speak to the defendant and let them know their family is looking out for them. In our experience, this has saved so many people from the stress and anxiety of not knowing who is looking out for them. This is one of the toughest moments because everything happens quickly, and a lot of information can be learned for worried family members.
- Detention Hearing - This is where your attorney will argue for your loved one to get a bond. A bond is not guaranteed in a federal criminal case and, most of the time, the United States attorney will file a motion to keep your loved one for at least three days. (See Bail Reform Act) In fact, United States pre-trial will interview your loved one to get background information that will be presented to the judge describing what type of risks may be posed if they are released. The Magistrate judge will make a decision on setting a series of bond conditions to assure that the person shows up for court and will not be a danger to the community. There is a list of factors the judge will consider, and our office will weigh and analyze all the factors to give your loved one the best chance. (18 U.S.C 3142 (g)) Unlike Texas state criminal cases, you don’t just see the magistrate judge, get a bond set, and have your favorite bond company post a 10% bond for your person. Your attorney has to have a plan to argue for conditions of release. Too many attorneys forget that the more work you put in the better the chances. You have to understand that most federal drug cases have a presumption that no conditions will satisfy the Judge’s concerns. We have argued hundreds of detention hearings and have built a strategy for presenting evidence for a judge to consider. For example, on November 18, 2022, we presented a continuing legal education for all federal criminal attorneys in San Antonio on the best strategies for detention hearings. This hearing is one of the most important hearings in the entire process. If a bond is approved, your loved one may sign themselves out on what’s called an unsecured bond. Here, your loved one signs that they will follow the conditions set by the judge and, if they break conditions, it will be possible to owe the government the amount of the unsecured bond or even face extra federal criminal charges. If the judge is on the fence, the judge may ask a family member/other person to sign the unsecured bond as a third-party custodian. This status puts the person on the hook if they don’t report criminal behavior by the arrested person. Bottom line, this is an important federal hearing that needs special attention.
- Arraignment - After you have been indicted on the case you were arrested for the judge will set your case for an arraignment. An arraignment is where the person accused of the crime must plead guilty or not guilty. Most times these hearings are waived, and the accused will automatically enter a plea of not guilty. Prior to the arraignment, you will have received a formal charging instrument known as a federal indictment. Your attorney will have to analyze this document and explain the charges and the law. The federal indictment will list all the federal criminal acts you are accused of and list details.
- Discovery - Discovery is the disclosure of evidence the Federal Government is releasing to you and your attorney that describes the crimes they believe you have committed. This will be released by way of photographs, reports from the agency that investigated you, police cameras, drone surveillance, wiretaps, text messages between you and informants, social media posts, lab reports for drugs recovered, search warrants, and application for warrants for cell phone data.
- Plea or Trial - If you have seen all the evidence in the case, you must decide whether to enter a plea of guilty or go to trial. We will always leave this decision to you and will never force you to enter into a plea bargain. We will always advise on what your sentencing guideline range might be if you enter the guilty plea versus going to trial. It is true that most federal cases that are indicted or charged do not go to trial. In fact, more than 90% of federal cases end in some form of a plea bargain. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean there will be no negotiating or that you will take what the prosecutors want. That’s why you need a strong federal criminal defense attorney who knows the law and the other side’s playbook. Plea bargains in federal court come in different flavors. Some plea bargains are written agreements with the federal prosecutor while others are plea bargains where you orally enter a plea of guilty to the indictment. Should you decide to go to trial, we will go to battle for you. We have taken enough cases to trial that you can feel confident knowing you have a proven defense attorney in your corner. We have a reputation of being willing to go to trial and have earned the respect of federal prosecutors and federal judges for our ability to present a defense and succeed at defending our clients.
- Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) - After entering into a plea or after being found guilty, you will be interviewed by the Federal Probation Department. This report will have details about your childhood, education, mental health, general health, the offense, criminal history, and your finances. This report will give the sentencing judge a comprehensive view of you on paper. Probation will calculate what they believe should be an appropriate sentencing guideline range and the judge will refer to this report for facts.
- Objections to PSR - After the PSR is prepared, your federal criminal attorney generally has 14 days to object to items in the report. During this time, your federal attorney will review the PSR with you and go over what details to contest.
- Sentencing Memo and Character Letters - Prior to the sentencing date, your federal criminal lawyer will get as many character letters to present to your judge for purposes of mitigation. These letters will help show the judge that there are people who care about you and truly know your character. We all know that humans are not perfect, and this is the opportunity for friends and family to get together and show their support. Our office has been successful with presenting sentencing memos because we get another opportunity to show the true story you want told and explain why we should receive a variance or departure in your case.
The federal criminal justice system is complicated and requires an experienced federal criminal lawyer. If you or a loved one find yourself in need of representation for any federal crime, you can set up a meeting to discuss the facts and defenses in your federal criminal case. Our office handles all federal cases and would be happy to brainstorm the best way to approach your case.
If you have found yourself facing federal criminal charges or federal drug crime charges you need an experienced federal criminal attorney in San Antonio to give you your best chance of being released on bond and increase your chances of beating the case. Contact us today to get started.
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Get Help from Our Federal Criminal Lawyer in San Antonio!
If you are facing federal criminal charges, you need an attorney who understands the difference between the state and federal system. A federal crime is any that violates a federal law, occurs between states, or on federal property, such as in a national park. Federal crimes are investigated by numerous agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and more. With so much working against you, you need a criminal defense attorney who can best represent your interests in court.
Here are some of the most important benefits of hiring our firm:
- Expertise: Our federal criminal attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience in handling federal criminal cases. They understand the nuances of federal criminal law, court procedures, and legal strategies that can be employed to defend their clients.
- Protection of rights: We can protect your constitutional rights during the criminal justice process. They can ensure that your rights to due process, a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence are upheld.
- Case investigation: Our legal team can conduct a thorough investigation of the case against you, including reviewing evidence, interviewing witnesses, and identifying any weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
- Negotiation: We can negotiate with prosecutors to potentially get charges reduced or dropped altogether, or negotiate a plea deal that minimizes the potential consequences of a conviction.
- Trial representation: If your case goes to trial, our federal criminal lawyer can provide strong representation, including presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making persuasive arguments to the judge and jury.
- Sentencing advocacy: If you are convicted, we can advocate on your behalf during the sentencing phase, potentially securing a more lenient sentence.
Facing federal criminal charges? You need aggressive criminal defense as soon as possible. Contact our San Antonio federal criminal defense lawyer to learn how he can help you during this difficult time! Dial (210) 787-2842 to get started.
What Is the Difference Between Federal and State Charges?
The federal system is rigid and well-funded. Unlike the state system, most federal investigations are well developed. By the time the case has been filed against you, the attorney for the United States has worked with several agencies to develop the case against you.
A federal case is more serious because:
- It is prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys that have significant time to dedicate to the case, meaning the accused has been investigated for weeks or longer.
- It is overseen by United States Magistrate Judges and United States District Judges.
- It is handled in federal district court, which has less cases, a deliberate schedule and nearly never dismisses a case for an unprepared prosecutor.
- Conditions of release and supervision of an officer can accompany a bail payment.
- Juries are pulled from the district of the court, not necessarily the same county, meaning that jurors will be more diverse than in state court.
- Federal sentencing guidelines, not state sentencing, govern your punishment, which are oftentimes more severe.
If you have found yourself facing federal criminal charges or federal drug crime charges you need an experienced San Antonio federal criminal defense attorney to give you your best chance of being released on bond and increase your chances of beating the case.
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