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DC Drug Crime Trials in Federal Court

Every criminal trial in the United States with one or two exceptions is open to the public and the process can be lengthy and complex. If there are large security concerns, sometimes, trials are closed, however, overall a public trial is one of the foundational principles of our criminal justice system.

It is important to understand the various complexities that could arise in DC drug crime trails when they are held in federal courts. It is essential that those accused have an experienced DC federal drug attorney on their side during their trial.

Court Process

The court process includes a charge being brought by a complaint or by indictment, arrests occurring, and the investigation. With the court process, the chronology of events that occur is pretty much the same in federal court and in DC Superior Court, which is the local court.

However, that is not the case in all local courts. For example, in Maryland or Virginia state court, cases typically proceed to a district court first. A person can have a trial in district court and if they lose, by right, they have the opportunity to have a new trial in circuit court. That is not the case in federal court or in local court in the District of Columbia.

Resolution

Usually, the case is not resolved on the first court date in local court. Unless the government makes the decision to not pursue a prosecution in local court, then the case can be resolved on the first day. Other than that, cases are not resolved on the first court date.

Length of Cases

The typical length of federal drug cases is at least one year in federal court in the District of Columbia, and Maryland is pretty much the same. Cases proceed more quickly in the Eastern District of Virginia where judges consider speed a positive quality in developing a case. They may push the case to trial or resolution without trial within 70 days. It can be a difficult, challenging way to practice and litigate the case.

Federal Sentencing

The penalties are typically much harsher in federal court when someone is convicted. Sentencing in federal court will also be much more complicated than in state courts. There is more work involved in a federal sentencing that is different from state court. There might be the same amount of work put into a state court sentencing, but it is not at the same level of complexity with respect to how a judge is going to determine the sentence.

Interacting With The Media

Some cases have some newsworthiness where reporters focus on them and do investigations of their own. It is rarely to the client’s benefit to interact with the press. It is never a good idea for a client to speak to the press on their own, and they should never do so without extensive preparation.

In high profile cases, the criminal lawyer should not interact with media and not let media coverage affect how they conduct the investigation or how they litigate the case unless it is helpful.

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