When most people think of arrests and criminal trials, they are thinking about alleged violations of state laws. It is true that most criminal incidents involve local police agencies and take place before state judges.
However, the federal government also has the power to prohibit criminal activities and prosecute alleged violations. For the most part, these events occur in similar ways to state crimes. Even so, federal arrests in South Carolina have distinctions that are important to understand. Having a knowledgeable federal defense attorney could help you protect your rights and make a prosecutor’s job as difficult as possible.
Most criminal prosecutions in South Carolina follow a similar pattern. A city’s police department or a county’s sheriff’s department gather evidence concerning a crime and arrest a suspect. They then refer the case to a local district attorney who files an official complaint in the county courthouse. A county judge then presides over the case.
Federal charges occur in much the same way. However, the identities of the major players changes. For federal charges, the FBI, ATF, or other regulatory agency’s investigatory body performs an investigation into the incident. These alleged offenses involve:
These agencies then refer the case to a United States Attorney for the federal government operating in South Carolina. These attorneys then file a formal charge in a United States District Court, where the case will proceed. It is essential to remember that federal law enforcement can only make arrests for apparent violations of federal crimes. Working with a lawyer to understand these differences could help people better understand the process of federal arrests in South Carolina.
Understanding why federal arrests happen is one thing. It is another thing entirely to know how to protect one’s rights when these arrests occur. Thankfully, all the same concepts that protect the rights of people facing state charges apply to federal arrests.
Among the most important of these are the rights to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning. Federal law enforcement agencies must read suspects their Miranda rights after making an arrest. While they are free to question a suspect under arrest, that suspect has the right to demand that an attorney be present during questioning. Similarly, a federal suspect never needs to testify during a trial or provide any other form of evidence that may go towards demonstrating their culpability for an alleged crime. In sum, people facing a federal arrest should remain silent, except to demand an experienced attorney.
Federal arrests in South Carolina mean that a federal law enforcement agency, such as the FBI, has probable cause that a violation of federal law has occurred. They will then transfer the suspect’s case to a United States Attorney who can file charges in a United States District Court. That court then hears the case based upon federal law and can impose sentences consistent with those laws.
While you are likely powerless to stop an arrest from happening, you can take steps to protect yourself. These include providing only minimal information to law enforcement and demanding an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer could help you to deal with the consequences of a federal arrest in South Carolina and to develop a strategy moving forward. Reach out to learn more.