state criminal defense

Top Four Ways State Criminal Defense Differs From Federal

State criminal defense


Not all lawyers practice all areas of the law.  For example, if someone is charged with a crime, they obviously need to hire a criminal defense attorney. This decision can be challenging if the person is charged in federal court, not in the county state court. Not all criminal defense attorneys in California handle federal criminal cases. This is why it’s important to know what your charges are and what court they are filed in before hiring an attorney. If your case is in federal court, it is imperative you hire a federal criminal attorney who regularly practices in federal court. There are several differences between federal criminal defense and state criminal defense, and here are the top four.

  1. No Right To Federal Grand Jury Transcripts: One of most frustrating differences for a federal criminal defense attorney is not having the right to obtain the federal grand jury transcripts after your client is indicted. This seems absurd because in California, and indicted defendant has a right to receive the grand jury transcripts so the attorney can evaluate and determine if a motion to dismiss the indictment is warranted. In federal court, the federal criminal defense attorney receives the federal grand jury transcripts only after filing a formal request pursuant to Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
  2. No Plea Negotiations With A Federal Judge: In state criminal proceedings, the defense attorney can get an plea offer from the Deputy District Attorney assigned to the case or ask the judge who is overseeing the case for a court offer. This is great if you are dealing with an extremely unreasonable deputy district attorney who has no sense of a fair plea offer. You always have the option to discuss the case with the state court judge to try and obtain a reasonable offer. Unfortunately, there are absolutely NO plea negotiations with a federal court judge. In federal court, if the assigned Assistant United States Attorney is completely unrealistic, unreasonable and unwilling to dismiss a charge or charges your client does not want to plead guilty to, your only option is to go to trial and let the jury decide your fate. So hire a state criminal defense attorney to help your case.
  3. Federal Sentence Not Known Before The Sentencing Hearing: In state criminal cases where a plea deal is entered, the defendant always knows what the sentence will be since it was negotiated. In federal court, that is not the case. The federal criminal defense attorney can only negotiate the terms of a plea with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but there is a term in every plea that states the judge is not a party to the plea agreement and there are no guarantees of what the sentence will be prior to the sentencing hearing. This is very unnerving for any defendant, but unfortunately that is how the federal system operates.
  4. No Federal Parole: After a defendant serves a prison sentence in state court, he or she may be placed on parole and have to report to a parole officer during the length of the parole term. Federal court does not impose parole. However, there is a similar supervision component used in the federal system called Supervised Released which does not usually exceed 5 years after the person is released from custody.

If you or a loved one is in need of a federal criminal defense attorney in California, please contact Kenney Legal Defense Corporation and schedule a consultation with Karren Kenney. She regularly practices in federal and state courts throughout California. She is the premier state criminal defense attorney and can help you with your case

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