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What Happens When You’re Charged With a Federal Crime in Texas?

— September 11, 2020

Indeed, getting charged for a federal crime can be a traumatic experience. Unlike the crimes prosecuted under the state court, federal crimes come with more serious legal consequences.

While most criminal charges in Texas are prosecuted under state law, you can also face prosecution under federal law. This is especially true if you’ve committed a criminal activity across a broad spectrum, such as fraud, conspiracy, terrorism, and money laundering.

Typically, federal criminal charges are different from the charges usually prosecuted in the state court. These involve different judges, prosecutors, court’s schedule, bail, prosecution processes, and sentencing. That said, it’s important to seek the assistance of an experienced legal professional who knows the difference between federal and state criminal charges. Not only that, but you should also get familiar with the possible series of events that can happen when you’ve committed a federal crime or a crime against the government.  

Keep reading this article to learn what happens when you’re charged with a federal crime in Texas. 

You’ll Be Taken to the Federal Magistrate for the Hearings 

When you have a federal criminal charge in Texas, you’ll be taken to the federal magistrate, who will explain the nature of the charges against you. Primarily, a federal magistrate is a federal judge who works in the United States district court. They may preside most phases of federal proceedings, except for trials involving a criminal felony.  

Therefore, if you have a federal case, the federal magistrate will work on your situation by determining your offense’s severity and the necessity of a bond. This can be done through the following hearings:  

  • Preliminary Hearing – This hearing occurs within a few days after the federal crime is charged. At this stage, the magistrate court will review all pieces of evidence and determine whether there’s sufficient probable cause that will support the charge. Due to these proceedings’ nature, you’ll need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, like David Finn, who is licensed in federal court. They’ll find out the nature of the criminal charge against you. If they can discover problems with the government’s case, they can use the same as reasons your case should be dismissed.  
  • Detention Hearing – This hearing occurs to allow the magistrate court to determine whether you can avail of a bond or not. The federal magistrate will ask some questions on whether adequate conditions can be established to protect the community and guarantee your presence in court after posting a bond.  

Jury Trial Takes Place

OKC law school courtroom; image by David Veksler, via Un
OKC law school courtroom; image by David Veksler, via Un

After the hearings are conducted, your case will be tried through a federal criminal jury trial. Typically, a federal criminal jury trial is closely related to a jury trial in a state court. At this stage, the court will serve copies of summons to citizens in the district who should report to the court for jury duty. From there, the judge initiates the jury selection, which is legally known as voir dire.  

Previously, both parties’ legal counsels don’t have the opportunity to address the jury panel directly. But, as time goes by, the way the court conducts trial also changes. Today, the court allows lawyers to question the potential jurors for the trial.  

Once it’s done, each party can set a predetermined number of people, and the first 12 remaining members officially become the jury. After the determination of the jury, the following are the steps taking place during the trial: 

  • Presentation of Evidence by the Government – The government proceeds with the presentation of evidence. Like in the state court, the government has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a federal crime in Texas. Hence, the prosecutor will call the witnesses for their testimonies and present evidence to the jury.  
  • Presentation of Evidence by the Defense – While the government should present pieces of evidence, the defense doesn’t. But, if you wish to submit evidence to prove your claim, you can do so.  
  • Deliberation – It’s important to note that the trial is governed by the federal rules of criminal procedure and evidence, which is why you should hire a criminal defense attorney to make sure someone knows the governing laws well. For instance, after presenting evidence, the jury will decide to deliberate the case and determine whether you’re guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the jury finds you guilty, the case will proceed to sentence. If the jury doesn’t find you guilty, the trial will stop, and you’ll be released.  


Indeed, getting charged for a federal crime can be a traumatic experience. Unlike the crimes prosecuted under the state court, federal crimes come with more serious legal consequences. Because of this, you need to be aggressive in finding the best lawyer in town. By hiring a legal professional, you can convince the judge why you should receive a bond to allow you to fight for your case outside bars.  

Hopefully, you find this article helpful in understanding what usually happens when you’re charged with a federal crime in Texas. That way, you’ll know what to do and where to turn to for help as the need arises.  

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