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Make a solid plan for handling your federal criminal case

Facing federal criminal charges is a very serious matter. You have to make a plan for how you will handle your defense. As unpleasant as it might be, you also need to think about what you will do if you are convicted or even if you are planning to take a plea deal.

There are some very specific points to think about that apply to federal cases. Knowing these may help as you plan for your case.

Check for appeal waivers in plea deals

In federal court, you might be able to launch an appeal of a conviction. Some plea deals contain an appeal waiver that could bar you from filing an appeal. Make sure that you review the paperwork to find out if there is this type of waiver. If there is one, you need to find out if you can do anything about it. Sometimes, your lawyer might be able to have the waiver removed or reduced.

If you do decide to appeal, you need to get it done right away. You don't have time to waste. The law provides you with a 14-day window to file the appeal from the date the judgement is entered.

If you let this time pass, you are simply out of luck unless you can file a 2255 motion, which contains claims for things like ineffective counsel. You have one year from the date of the appeal denial or from 14 days after the entry of the court's judgement to file a 2255 motion.

Ask the judge for recommendations

You can ask the judge presiding over your case to include recommendations in the sentencing for your case. This can include instructions for you to be sent to a specific prison or orders that you are instructed to take specific programs. In some cases, the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report is used to determine if a person can undergo specific programs.

For example, the Federal Bureau of Prisons Residential Drug Abuse Program can lead to a sentence reduction for some people. Other programs like the Sex Offender Management Program can increase the safety of some prisoners who have qualifying charges.

You can even ask the judge to help determine what is going to happen when you are released from prison. Just remember that the recommendations from the judge about some things, such as prison placement or programs, aren't orders. They are only recommendations that may or may not be filed.

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