Federal Criminal Process
After being arrested and turned over to the marshals, the person is taken before a magistrate to be arraigned on the first available business day. Usually, a person is taken before a magistrate within 48 hours of arrest. However, if someone is arrested on a Thursday and turned over to the marshals on a Friday before a weekend with a Monday holiday, that person will probably be arraigned on Tuesday, five days after arrest. At the initial arraignment, the person will be interviewed by someone from the federal public defenders’ office.
Unless the person has already hired an attorney, federal defenders represent everyone at the initial arraignment. At the arraignment, the defendant will be informed of the charge(s) against him/her, counsel will be appointed if the defendant cannot afford to hire counsel, and bail will be set. The defendant will be given a date to return to court for a preliminary examination (“PE”) in approximately 10 days.
Bail options Unlike arrests for state law crimes, you cannot go to a bail bondsman and post a bail to get released. Instead, you have to wait until you are brought before a magistrate judge, who will then set conditions of release, which include a bail amount. Usually bail will be either: A signature bond, where the defendant or a number of relatives or close friends will promise to pay money if the defendant fails to appear or violates the other conditions of his release, or the defendant or a number of relatives or close friends will post a cash deposit, or the defendant or a number of relatives or close friends will post real estate as security for his or her release. In the event that the defendant fails to appear or violates the conditions of release, the court may forfeit the bond and the money will be paid to the government or the government will take title to the property (or have a lien on the proceeds of any sale of the property).
At the conclusion of the case, the bond will be exonerated and the money returned or property lien released. Accordingly, the first thing you should do when arrested for a federal crime is call a lawyer (or call a relative and have him or her call a federal crimes attorney).