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Ohio Federal Criminal Investigation Process

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 20,000 criminal cases and consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s Best Criminal Defense Firms. We treat our clients like family with a non-judgmental approach. Knowledge is power in any situation. We are here to help educate you about your circumstances. Use our resources below to contact us and learn how we can help you.

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Ohio Federal Criminal Investigation Process

Criminal cases differ from civil cases in that only the government may initiate criminal cases. When a federal criminal case begins, the principal parties involved are the U.S. Attorney, who prosecutes the case, and the grand jury. The U.S. Attorney represents the United States in court proceedings, including all criminal prosecutions. Once federal law enforcement authorities learn about alleged criminal activity, that agency will investigate whether a federal offense was committed and, if so, who committed it.

However, not every crime is a federal offense. Federal law enforcement agencies like the F.B.I. will only investigate alleged criminal activity if there is reason to believe the crime violated some federal law. For example, robbery is illegal in every state, but it is not considered a federal crime unless there is a connection with the federal government, such as the robbery of a facility used in interstate commerce or of a federally insured bank.

Cincinnati Federal Criminal Investigation Process Lawyer, Ohio

When most people think about hiring a criminal defense attorney, they only consider doing so after there has been an arrest. However, retaining a skilled criminal defense lawyer during the investigation process, especially during a federal criminal investigation, can protect your rights and interests.

If you even suspect that you might be the target of a federal criminal investigation, contact Joslyn Law Firm. Our Ohio defense attorneys can walk you through every step of the process. To schedule a free consultation with Joslyn Law Firm, call (513) 399-6289.

Joslyn Law Firm serves the greater Cincinnati area including nearby counties such as Hamilton County, Butler County, Warren County, Brown County, and Clermont County.


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Information Center


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Investigation

If circumstances dictate, the first step of the process may be an arrest. Suppose law enforcement has probable cause to arrest a suspect, for example, based on witnessing the suspect commit a crime. In that case, law enforcement will arrest a suspect with a minimal level of investigation.

The nature of the federal criminal offense may determine which federal agency undertakes the investigation. Federal law enforcement agencies do not have jurisdiction over the investigation of every federal crime. This factor promotes expertise by a federal law enforcement agency in a certain area of the law.

At some point in the investigation, the agency may conclude that a crime was committed and identify a suspect. They may even arrest a suspect without first obtaining an arrest warrant. In contrast, they may receive an arrest warrant for a specific person or delay an arrest to provide more time for additional and more substantial evidence of guilt.

In circumstances where agents need to obtain documents from suspects and other parties as part of the investigation, the agents can apply for a search warrant from a judge or magistrate to search a specific location for relevant evidence. Another option is for the agents to request a subpoena from a grand jury.


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Grand Jury

A grand jury is an impartial body of local citizens investigating whether a person committed a criminal offense and any underlying details of the alleged crime. Whenever a grand jury is involved in an investigation, federal agents work in tandem with the federal government’s attorney to determine whether someone committed a crime and the identity of the responsible party. The Supreme Court has interpreted the U.S. Constitution to require the federal government to use grand juries for felony offenses.

A grand jury can issue subpoenas and compel testimony. All proceedings and statements made before a grand jury are sealed, which means such information is kept private and confidential. Witnesses compelled to testify before a grand jury are not permitted to have an attorney present. After hearing the testimony of witnesses and other evidence presented by the prosecution, the grand jury votes in secret on whether they believe there is sufficient evidence to charge the individual with a criminal offense. If the grand jury finds probable cause that this person committed a crime, it issues an indictment.

After the grand jury delivers an indictment, a federal judge may issue either a summons ordering the defendant to appear in court or an arrest warrant authorizing law enforcement to arrest the defendant. The indictment contains the basic information that informs a person of the charges filed against them. Once a person is indicted, they receive formal notice that the government believes they committed a crime.


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Arrest And Pre-Trial

After the arrest, the defendant makes an initial appearance. Here, the judge advises the defendant of the charges filed after reviewing arrest and post-arrest investigations reports. The judge considers whether the court should hold the defendant in jail until trial and whether there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and the defendant has committed it. The judge advises defendants unable to afford counsel of their right to an attorney appointed by the court. Defendants granted release before trial may be subject to electronic monitoring or drug testing. They may also be required to report to pre-trial services to ensure their appearance at trial.

Next, the defendant appears at an arraignment to enter a plea to the charges. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge will schedule a trial. More than 90 percent of defendants plead guilty rather than go to trial. Guilty pleas are often the result of plea bargains, which is when the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for reduced charges.


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Additional Resources

Federal Bureau of Investigation – This provides information about the types of criminal matters that the F.B.I. investigates.

U.S. Department of Justice – This provides a synopsis of the criminal investigation process and the criminal trial process through sentencing and appeal.


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Ohio Federal Criminal Investigation Attorney, Cincinnati

Joslyn Law Firm offers skilled representation to clients who have been arrested for federal crimes. If you know or suspect that you are the target of a federal investigation, speak with one of our defense lawyers. We have years of combined experience protecting our clients during federal criminal investigations.

To discuss your legal options, call (513) 399-6289 as soon as possible. We accept federal crimes in Cincinnati, Ohio, and nearby cities including Blue Ash, Montgomery, Florence, North College Hill, and Blue Ash.


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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional excellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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