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How do federal criminal investigations work?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If you are accused of a white-collar crime like fraud or embezzlement, it’s important to understand what it means if you’re being investigated. These kinds of offenses may be charged at the federal level, and if so, you will go through the federal criminal process.

There are eleven steps in the federal criminal process, one of which is the investigative step. Here is more about what you should know.

The 11 steps of the federal criminal process

The 11 steps of the federal criminal process include:

  1. The investigation
  2. Charges
  3. Hearings and arraignment
  4. Discovery
  5. Plea bargaining
  6. Preliminary hearing
  7. Pretrial motions
  8. Trial
  9. Post-trial motions
  10. Sentencing
  11. Appeals

Each step in the process moves the case along. Some people won’t go through all the steps, but some cases do go through all 11.

The first part of the federal criminal process: Investigating

The criminal investigation is the first part of a case. During an investigation, the agency that covers the particular crime that is being investigated will be involved. This might be the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example. For most white-collar crimes, it’s the FBI who will come knocking.

Investigators look into the case and try to obtain evidence that could help them understand the details. They may come to your workplace and start talking to you or others about transactions or other topics. If you see someone asking questions or you know the FBI has come to your workplace, then it’s time to start building your own legal protections.

Sometimes, investigators will have search warrants. If so, they will be able to search for the specific items they’re looking for or to look through a certain area of your home or business. If there is enough evidence, they may decide to make an arrest. If not, then they may go away with that evidence to continue building a case.

It is smart to know your legal rights when the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved. You need to take action to protect yourself, your reputation and your freedoms.


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