There are two main ways a Texas resident can be charged with a crime – under federal law and Texas law. The federal criminal court process is different from the state court. The path through the state court process in Texas is relatively straightforward. However, the path through the federal court process will vary depending on how the assistant US attorney prosecuting your case handles it.
There are additional steps prosecutors must take to indict people charged with federal crimes in Texas before they can take you to trial. For example, prosecutors must prove that there is probable cause that you committed the crime in a preliminary hearing before they can take you to trial.
Depending on your unique situation, you may be arrested before the assistant US attorney presents evidence in front of a grand jury. If you are arrested, the grand jury may convene within a week. Or they could put the process on hold while the prosecutor investigates your case more or you negotiate a plea bargain. If you do not go to a grand jury immediately, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to secure your release from jail. In other cases, the defendant will never go to jail before prosecutors bring federal charges against them. Instead, the assistant US attorney can file a complaint against you, complete the preliminary hearing, or call a grand jury. If a grand jury indicts you, federal law enforcement can obtain a warrant for your arrest.
The Grand Jury
The grand jury will not decide whether you are guilty or innocent. The grand jury, made up of 16 to 23 people, will review alleged felony conduct to determine whether there is probable cause to support criminal charges against you. Grand juries are private and not open to the public. A grand jury of 23 people requires 12 jurors to vote to indict you. The prosecutor may decide to skip the grand jury and hold a preliminary hearing in front of a judge, especially if you are charged with a misdemeanor.
Initial Appearance at Court
After you have been arrested, you will make an initial appearance in a federal court. The judge will inform you of the charge against you and the conditions for your release, including whether you can get out on a bond. Within 10 days of your arrest, you will be arraigned. You will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you enter not guilty, you and your lawyer will begin preparing for trial.
Discuss Your Case With a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you know that federal law enforcement is investigating you, do not wait until you are indicted to contact a criminal defense lawyer. Contact the skilled Flower Mound criminal defense lawyers at Abel Law Firm immediately. We have extensive criminal experience and will protect your rights and develop an effective legal defense strategy.