How the pretrial stage works in a federal investigation
When someone in Florida who claims to have witnessed or been a victim of some type of federal offense notifies federal authorities, one of several federal law enforcement agencies may decide to investigate the matter further. The agency that is going to investigate the matter may depend on the nature of the offense. However, if the investigating agency believes there is enough evidence that a crime took place, it may place you under arrest.
Per the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if the allegation is that you committed some type of white-collar crime, investigating authorities may need to do one of two things to gather evidence. They may decide to seek a search warrant from a judge or magistrate. Or, they may ask for a subpoena from a grand jury.
The initial appearance and arraignment
If authorities arrest you for a particular offense, the next step involves making an initial appearance within 72 hours of your arrest. At this point, you should learn more about the formal charge you may face and what rights you have. Authorities may then decide to either release you or have you stay behind bars until your arraignment. During the arraignment, you receive a formal copy of the charges against you and have a chance to enter a plea.
Discovery, motion practice and plea bargaining
During the discovery phase, both sides may have to gather pertinent information related to your case. Both sides may also issue certain motions asking for specific requests during this stage. In some cases, you may decide a plea bargain might lead to your most favorable outcome. However, you do not necessarily have to engage in plea negotiations during this time.
If you decide to reject a proposed plea agreement, the next step typically involves going to trial.