Federal Criminal Law

Richard M. Oberto has been adapting his legal practice to developments in federal law ever since he became an attorney. The United States Supreme Court has issued landmark judicial decisions in recent years that changed the rules of federal sentencing and the admissibility of certain types of evidence. Mr. Oberto has stayed abreast those rulings and helped clients to understand their implications.

Mr. Oberto has been admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The Eastern District has a location in Fresno, which is where Mr. Oberto maintains his central law office.

Federal Criminal Procedure

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District is responsible for prosecuting cases in the local District Court. Judicial Officers of the Eastern District preside over the criminal cases. The Judicial Officers includes judges who have been appointed by the President under Article III of the United States Constitution and Magistrates who have been hired under Article I of the United States Constitution. While Magistrates may preside over certain pre-trial proceedings, only Judges appointed under Article III may preside over criminal trials. Judges appointed under Article III enjoy lifetime tenure pursuant to the Constitution.

Federal prosecutors typically initiate criminal cases by an Indictment. In an indictment proceeding, the prosecutorial agency presents evidence to a grand jury. The suspect does not have an opportunity during the proceeding to respond to the evidence, contest the evidence, or present a defense. The grand jury relies exclusively on evidence from the prosecutor and does not determine whether the evidence establishes proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The grand jury considers the evidence and decides whether there is adequate basis for bringing criminal charges against a suspect. If the grand jury finds there is adequate basis, the prosecutor typically files an Indictment in the local District Court. The Indictment process is in contrast to state criminal cases, which are typically initiated when the District Attorney files a Complaint directly with the Superior Court.

An accused person in federal court frequently receives very little advance notice, if any, that an Indictment might be brought against him. The grand jury proceedings that lead up to an indictment are secret. As a result, the prosecution in a federal case frequently has a substantial head-start in organizing, investigating, and developing its legal theories. By the time a defendant is presented with the Indictment at arraignment, the prosecutor has typically amassed a large volume of documents and discovery that must be turned over to the defendant. Some accused people in federal court waive their right to a speedy trial so that their attorney has a chance to review the large volume of discovery from the prosecutor and so that they can assist their attorney in preparing a defense.

Bail Setting and Release

Defendants in the early stage of a federal case are entitled to a hearing where they may request a bail setting and release from pre-trial detention. Many defendants and attorneys place considerable emphasis on preparing for the hearing. Many defendants in federal court face charges for non-violent drug and white collar crimes. The pre-trial bail and detention hearing affords those defendants an important opportunity to obtain release from jail confinement as they assist in preparing their case for trial.

Federal Criminal Jurisdiction

Federal crimes have special jurisdictional requirements. The crime must occur on federal property or involve some aspect of interstate commerce. The jurisdictional requirements sometimes present complicated issues of law and fact. A skilled attorney can evaluate such issues and present any defenses that might be appropriate.

Federal Criminal Discovery

The rules of discovery in federal court are more restrictive than in state court. Federal prosecutorial authorities must turn over exculpatory evidence, but do not have to turn over all relevant evidence. A defendant must make affirmative requests to discover certain kinds of evidence. A skilled attorney is essential so that a person can discover the relevant facts, evaluate the legal issues, and present his case.

Federal Criminal Sentencing

Federal sentencing frequently presents complex issues of law and fact. The United States Supreme Court has issued a variety of opinions regarding the Constitutional implications of federal sentencing. There likely will be more opinions to come. The executive and legislative branches have also reformed some aspects of federal sentencing that critics had long decried as unfair and excessively punitive. A skilled attorney is essential so that a person can ensure the protection of his Constitutional rights.

The best time to contact a federal criminal defense attorney is as soon as possible. Mr. Oberto can provide peace of mind, expert guidance, and a way forward. He has a track record of achieving the best results in the most difficult circumstances.

Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Español.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

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