It was a bad day recently here in Atlanta when I learned that some clients had been indicted for some federal crimes, even though we have been trying for years to convince the prosecutors that no charges should be brought. Sometimes, criminal defense lawyers fail to adequately explain their clients about the process that happens on the first day in court. Many people have never been through the criminal justice system, so they are completely unfamiliar with the process. I always try my best to make sure that my clients are aware of the various things that will happen on the first day, and this post is a summary of what my conversation is like for such clients. The process is basically the same in the federal courts here in Georgia and throughout the country (with a few unique local features from time to time).
Most times, there is an “indictment”, which is the formal document that sets out the charges. In the majority of cases, this leads to an arrest warrant. I always try to convince prosecutors to let me surrender my clients to the agents who have the job of carrying out the arrest warrant. This way, we avoid having the agents go to the house for a surprise arrest, which is both unnerving to the client (and their family) as well as being dangerous for everyone nearby (how would you feel if you saw armed people sneaking around your neighbor’s house in the early morning hours?) Continue reading