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Being convicted of a federal crime can be a deeply disorienting experience. You’ve spent all that time preparing your case and presenting your arguments, only for it to all come crashing down by the guilty verdict handed down by the jury. Whether or not you’re actually guilty is beside the point, as you now have to face the consequences. If you’re currently awaiting or on trial in federal court, you need to know what to prepare for in the event that you are found guilty.
Consider Your Lawyer Before Sentencing
Just because you’ve been convicted doesn’t mean that the arguing on your behalf ends. Even with a guilty verdict handed down, your case is still an ongoing process, and you still have the right to representation. It’s typical to have the same attorney who represented you during the trial to represent you at sentencing. However, you can choose to hire a different attorney. This could be done for various reasons, such as not trusting your current attorney’s ability to achieve a fair sentence or wanting to hire someone who is more experienced with these matters.
Prepare Your Arguments
Even if you’re not a lawyer, you will still need to make sound arguments to the judge about what your sentence should be. You shouldn’t ask for a specific sentence, particularly not any that are anywhere below the sentencing guidelines for your particular offense. You need to show the judge that you are committed to being a good citizen. Answer their questions honestly and respectfully. Address them as “your honor” and remember that they are not holding any sort of vendetta against you. They’re simply following the law and making their best possible judgment based on the circumstances of your case. The most you can do is show them the respect that they deserve.
Work On Your Appeal
The appeals process can be a saving grace for anyone convicted of a crime. If you are adamant about having your conviction overturned, you need to be working on your appeal as soon as possible. Work to obtain logs of the trial, from the opening statements to the reading of the verdict, from the court’s stenographer. Like with sentencing, you will need to decide if you want to continue on with your current lawyer or hire a new one. A new attorney can help by offering a new perspective on the case and being able to make arguments that your previous one wasn’t able to. The most important thing to do is to keep up with your appeal without burning yourself out. You’re not likely to get a guilty verdict turned over in a day or even a week. Keep up a positive attitude as you work toward a solution.
Get Your Affairs In Order
Upon conviction, the best you can hope for is probation or a suspended sentence. If you’ve been sentenced to serve time in a federal penitentiary, you have a lot to prepare for. Some sentences result in immediate transferring to the prison or another holding facility, while others allow for those convicted time to take care of personal matters. Your bank account will likely be frozen, but you will still need to get in touch with creditors about how to handle your debts during your sentence. You may entrust payment to another person, such as a family member. If you’re renting your home, you will need to find a way to end your lease early with your landlord to avoid having an eviction on your record. If you own, you will still be expected to make mortgage payments. Consider temporarily renting your home out to cover those expenses. You should also put money in your prison account to cover the cost of goods, such as food items, while incarcerated. Make sure to also review what personal items you’re allowed to keep with you while incarcerated.
It’s unpleasant to think about being convicted of a federal crime. However, the pain of the aftermath can be reduced by being prepared for this scenario. By having your affairs in order and working on the appeal process, you can bring some hope into this dark time.
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