Facing a criminal charge in a Texas state court is always an intimidating experience. People who go before a judge in a criminal case rarely know a lot about the court’s procedures, the nature of the charges against them and all of the possible penalties.
Almost inevitably, they know less than the police and prosecutors trying to put them in jail.
United States authorities also can charge people with federal crimes. Federal crimes cover a lot of different topics, and many people have found themselves on the receiving end of federal charge related to sex, drugs or financial impropriety.
Federal court is in many ways a different ballgame from state court. For one, federal court has its own set of rules and procedures which can be different from those used in the Texas state courts. To some extent, each federal court has its unique way of doing things.
Moreover, the federal system uses a different process for sentencing offenders than do the state courts. The end result could be that a person who would face a relatively minor penalty in state court is looking at significant jail time in federal court.
For a layperson, navigating through federal court can seem like being in a foreign country where one does not speak the language. In either case, it can be very easy to get taken advantage of or agree to something that is in in one’s best interests. Even some other lawyers choose not to take cases in federal court.
A person in front of a federal judge in San Antonio is probably already looking at serious consequences for charges being brought by well-trained federal agents and prosecutors. He or she will likely want to consider carefully how to proceed so as not to get lost in the shuffle of the federal justice system.