Federal Pretrial Primer 1: What Prison Consultants Do

This is the first of three articles written for those who may be just entering the federal criminal justice system and the Bureau of Prisons. If you, or somebody you know, is dealing with a federal legal problem, you will undoubtedly encounter a cast of characters, names, and acronyms that are new and probably intimidating. We’ll make this information as understandable as possible while explaining why Prison Consultants can do for you.

The Cast of Characters

Who and what you’ll encounter

When the federal government first sets eyes on a person of interest where they believe a crime has been committed, an investigation will begin from one of many policing agencies (i.e. FBI, ICE, ATF, and many other abbreviated agencies). These agencies will be the first contact you will have with the system and their role tends to be very short. Generally you never see or know about the investigation, and your first indication of their interest in you will be when they make an arrest or formal indictment.

The second character in this sad play is your attorney. If you have a personal attorney, chances are they have tried very few federal criminal cases (federal criminal defense law can very different from state/local defense law) and will refer you to another defense attorney that knows their way around the halls of a federal courthouse. This is your first ally in a system that seems enormous and overpowering.

Third, if you are released on bond, will be a federal Pretrial Services Officer. This is basically a Probation Officer that is assigned to keep you out of any more trouble than you’ve already been accused of until your trial/sentencing hearing.

In very basic terms, these people will comprise the main contacts a new defendant will have when introduced into the world of federal justice. How you choose and interact with these people can make an huge impact on the eventual outcome of a case, and there is no single guidebook to describe exactly how to navigate your way through this confusing and frightening time.

This is why a fourth entity can be the most valuable ally anybody can have during this time: a Federal Prison Consultant.

Every person, and each case, is vastly different. Most people trust their attorney to do all of the thinking for them and pray that they made the correct choice in attorneys. The truth is that a good attorney can make the biggest difference on whether you serve prison time and/or how much time you spend there. The problem is: how do you know that your attorney is doing their job?

How, then, are you supposed to be secure in the defense your attorney is presenting on your behalf? Answer: A Prison Consultant is an entity that does not legally represent you, nor are they bound by the American BAR Association or its bylaws. A consultant can be a seasoned pair of eyes that will help you through this tough time and keep you from making common mistakes during this stage of the game.

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