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What To Expect From a Federal Drug Case in DC

With charges as serious as federal drug charges, it is important that you know what to expect so that you can prepare as best as possible for what you are about to face. Below, a DC federal drug lawyer discusses the various steps involved in a federal drug case, and what you should be prepared.

To learn more about federal drug charges in Washington, DC or to begin building a defense for your case, call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.

What Is The Typical Process For a Federal Drug Case?

If the person was arrested and there was no indictment issued at the time, then they will have their initial hearing in court. In this instance the defense attorney will likely request that conditions of release be set, and if the government is seeking to have the defendant held in jail then the attorney will schedule a detention hearing.

Step One: A Detention Hearing

At that hearing, the government has to prove that there’s probable cause that the defendant engaged in some alleged illegal activity and that they are so dangerous or such a flight risk that no combination of conditions could ensure either the safety of the community or that our client will appear in court.

Defense attorneys in federal drug cases prepare for detention hearings really aggressively for two reasons:

1) In an effort to show that there is not probable cause that the client engaged in those activities, and

2) To get valuable information about the government’s case because the government might have to put a witness on the stand to talk about their case.

Additionally, an attorney will also show that, even if there is probable cause, that there are conditions that would certainly assure both community safety and that the client will come back to court.

Step Two: Continue Investigation

Once the detention hearing is held, then the defense will continue the investigation into the case. This includes, speaking to the client and any potential witnesses, looking at the information the government is providing, challenging that information, and identifying if the government is not providing enough information, or perhaps not providing what’s called exculpatory evidence concerning that possession. Exculpatory evidence is information that demonstrates or suggests that the client didn’t do what he or she is accused of.

Step Three: Status Hearing

At some point, the defense will come back to what’s called the status hearing, where they will inform the judge on the progress of the case such as:

  • What’s happening
  • Whether the case will go to trial
  • and other relevant updates

There may be a series of those hearings, at which the defense attorney and his client will file various motions.

Sometimes these motions are for ‘bill of particulars‘ which make the government disclose what actions they actually think the defendant undertook. This information is particularly relevant in a conspiracy case because it can help us to demonstrate when the government is stalling or when their case may not be as strong as they want the defense to think it is. Then, at some point a trial date will be set or the case will be resolved without a trial.

If Someone Is Facing Federal Drug Charges What Should They Expect?

Facing federal drug charges is normally a fairly lengthy, involved process. It takes a lot of time because there are a lot of moving pieces to it, and there’s a lot of information that has to be analyzed. It’s not a simple case because typically in a conspiracy case there are a lot of people who are allegedly involved, which means that there a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration.

There are typically a lot of communications that need to viewed and analyzed, and you have to figure out in your analysis how they affect your client and how the government is going to be pursuing their case. It’s also extremely important to manage expectations honestly and to help clients and their families understand how the facts of their case are tied to certain outcomes that may be more or less likely depending on certain factors. In my experience, clients get a lot more out of working with an attorney who explains things clearly and doesn’t set up false expectations, as opposed to someone who provides expectations that are perhaps less realistic.

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