How Federal Cases Proceed


Robert Hambrick Photo 1If you, a member of your family or someone you love is under investigation by the Federal Government, you need an effective advocate who understands how Federal Cases proceed in the Middle District of Florida.

You need an advocate who has the experience, commitment and competence to help you secure the Best Possible Results for your case giving you as many choices as possible.

Robert speaks on How Federal Criminal Cases go from investigation, to Grand Jury Indictment, Bonds, Hearings, Trials & Sentencing in Tampa.

Early intervention from your Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer increases your likelihood that exculpatory evidence can be found to force Federal Prosecutors and Federal law enforcement to reduce criminal charges or the severity of the Federal Sentence required under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

A federal criminal case in the MIddle District of Florida in Tampa typically will commence in one of the following three ways:

  1. Indictment. In an indictment a Middle District of Florida Federal Grand Jury issues an Information which alleges facts upon which probable cause for a crime are published. An accused target of the Grand Jury may with the help of counsel waive the indictment and agree to be charged by criminal information in lieu of the grand jury process. This is usually a result of plea negotiations conducted thru a lawyer early in the process and usually would require the Defendant to co-operate by willing to testify to the Grand Jury for co-defendants to be indicted or to give other evidence of other known federal crimes. Should the Defendant waive the indictment then the case moves directly to the entry of the plea of guilty (see below).
  2. Complaint. In the Middle District of Florida a charge filed by complaint generally occurs when an arrest has occurred without a warrant. For example, when a Defendant is caught in the act of doing a federal crime such as a bank robbery, trafficking and conspiracy in drugs such as cocaine, identity theft, firearm or weapons charges, violent crime or child pornography the charge may be filed by complaint.
  3. Arrest. In the Middle District of Florida, if a case has been initiated by a complaint, then after the arrest of the Defendant a preliminary hearing will be conducted to determine if there is probable cause or an indictment will be filed instead. Where a case is initiated by an indictment by a Middle District of Florida Grand Jury or when the indictment is filed after the arrest by complaint, then the indictment itself is a probable cause determination and there is no preliminary hearing.

Preliminary Hearings In the Middle District of Florida are usually combined with the Bond or Bail Hearing at the initial appearance of the Defendant before a Middle District of Florida Federal Magistrate Judge. These Judges are appointed for a term of seven years unlike the District Judges who are appointed for life.

  1. The Defendant is formally advised of the charges and a bond will be set or detention requested made by the government.
  2. If the Federal Government requests a detention order from the Magistrate, then a hearing will be held to determine whether the accused will be released or not and if so under what conditions public safety as well as the Defendant’s future appearances can be guaranteed. Your defense lawyer will try to persuade the Judge that only a signature bond is required, which would require no actual money nor forfeiture of assets unless court hearings are missed.
  3. Arraignment. The Defendant will enter a plea. In the Middle District of Florida a Federal District Judge will be assigned to the case. The Defendant will then be given notification of the time limits for pretrial motions and Rule 16 discovery material that eventually must be provided by the Government.

Pretrial Motions. In the Middle District of Florida all Pretrial Motions challenging how evidence was obtained, the validity of the indictment, venue and other aspects of the case must be filed fairly early in the process.

  1. Although Federal Pretrial Motions must be filed within 10 days of arraignment, the time can be extended in the interests of justice by motion to the trial judge.
  2. Robert Hambrick will immediately begin a comprehensive and complete investigation of your charges, prepare applicable motions and submit evidence in support of the challenges to the case in this pretrial phase. The information obtained during this phase of the case can play a significant role in a Defendant’s decision as to whether to enter into a plea agreement or go to trial by jury in the Middle District of Florida.

Trial: If the Federal Defendant and the Federal Government fail to reach a satisfactory plea agreement quickly, then the Federal District Judge will set the case for Federal Trial and the merits of the case will be determined in a trial.

  1. Trial by jury is to be held within 70 days of arrest/initial appearance if there are no excludeable days under the Speedy Trial Act.
  2. But in most cases the defense waives the 70 days by filing motions, even by merely filing essential motions such as those for extensions of the time for the filing of other pretrial motions as noted above.


  1. An appeal to a conviction may be filed within 14 days (recently changed from 10) of the entry of judgment of the sentence by the presiding judge. If an appeal is necessary, itt is vitally important to establish with your Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney that you want to appeal so that the mandatory notice of appeal can be filed within the required time frame.
  2. An appeal is for those cases where issues have been raised and preserved and the accused wants to appeal.
  3. In the Middle District of Florida all plea agreements entered into by the Government contain a waiver of appeal, meaning that in essence that a Defendant has given up the right to appeal any sentence that is not unconstitutional or not within the appropriate guideline range.

The federal criminal legal system is often much faster than the criminal process for the State of Florida. Even when there is a Jury Trial the entire proces may take only a few months to complete. The case length depends upon the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses, the Judge’s calendar and the strategy and tactics being employed by your Tampa Bay Federal Criminal Defense as well as the actions of the United States Attorney’s Office at the Department of Justice, the DEA, the FBI, the IRS and any other federal agencies which may be a part of the prosecution.

As a former prosecutor Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Hambrick understands how to exploit weaknesses in Federal investigations, with many years of experience handling complex Federal criminal defense cases initiated by FBI, DEA, and the IRS.

Robert Hambrick has handled many successful federal cases with Federal Prosecutors in the Federal District Court in the Middle District of Tampa. His cases have included, healthcare fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, RICO, identity theft, bank fraud, trafficking and conspiracy and many other federal charges. Robert will take action to obtain the best results possible by immediately finding out if you are a target of a federal prosecution, and if so, to do everything possible to stop a federal grand jury indictment.