So what can you do when you discover that your worst nightmare just came true? The feds are on your doorstep arresting you on a federal indictment. You are facing a lengthy prison sentence and you feel paralyzed. What do you do?
- Be proactive. The first step is to find an experienced federal defense attorney to help you from the start. Even if you have not had time to reach out, do not speak to the federal authorities without your attorney being present. What you say will be used against you in court. There are measures that can be put in place to protect you in this situation, but do not fall victim such statements as, “Don’t you want to help yourself?” or “You need to get on board early, this could be your only chance.” Ask to speak to your attorney immediately and make certain your attorney is an experienced federal attorney who regularly practices in federal court.
- Listen to your attorney. You will likely be held in custody, even if only for a brief period of time. Do not speak to the other inmates. Every inmate in custody is trying to earn a reduced sentence and they all know that cooperating against another inmate is the quickest path to a shorter sentence.
- Your phone calls are being recorded. The case agents do listen to your phone calls. Although it is an isolating experience to be held in custody without your family and friends, talking freely on the phone is not a wise decision. The only time you should discuss your case is in the presence of your attorney.
- You are no longer in state court. The sentencing structure is entirely different, as is the negotiation process. Your attorney will need to get specific information from you and from the government’s reports in order to be able to give you a projected sentencing range. Be patient, as this process will take time.
What can you do to help yourself if you are arrested by federal authorities? You can help yourself by seeking out an experienced federal trial attorney.
*Jacquelyn Rokusek is a former Kansas state and federal prosecutor who has been devoted to federal criminal defense work since 2005. Jacquelyn’s office, Rokusek Stein Law, LLCis located in Shawnee, Kansas. She practices with John E. Cowles who is a former federal prosecutor from the Western District of Missouri and Jessica Sokoloff who has over ten years of experience as a public defender.