After someone has been taken into custody in Nebraska for a federal crime, a pretrial services officer generally interviews that individual about his or her background. This interview is intended to establish whether the interviewee ought to be released after being processed or not. Some releases are conditional in nature, and this initial interview may help define their limitations. If the case ultimately proceeds to trial, a U.S. attorney will act as prosecutor on behalf of the government.
Some defendants may be unable to afford an attorney to represent them, in which case they may be provided one by the court. Once a defendant has been interviewed and processed, he or she is typically required to make an initial appearance before a judge. This hearing reviews the probable cause and evidence against a defendant to verify the plausibility of taking the case to trial.
Once someone has been formally charged with a federal crime, they may make a plea at a hearing called an arraignment. A defendant may opt to plead guilty at an arraignment, in which case the judge will either impose a sentence immediately or schedule a sentencing for a later date. Many defendants prefer pleading guilty rather than risking a trial and having a potentially harsher sentence imposed upon them.
Although every situation is necessarily different and these statements should not be construed as legal advice, it may be possible to undermine the prosecutor’s evidence in some way or prevent them from reaching the necessary burden of proof to ensure conviction. In some specific cases, an attorney may be able negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to receive a reduced sentence on a defendant’s behalf.
Source: United States Courts, “Criminal Cases“, October 19, 2014
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