Federal Pretrial Status

When charged with a federal crime, newcomers to the criminal justice system feel lost, confused and helpless. Lawyers, Pretrial Service Officers, plea agreements, prison sentences, the Bureau of Prisons, and many other issues need to be learned and understood immediately in order to make the best decisions in the coming weeks and months. Trouble is, nobody is an expert in these areas during their first exposure to the system.

We at PCR Consultants have years of experience in each of these areas and can greatly help smooth the process and create better outcomes.

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Find out how we can help by calling us for a free consultation at (480) 382-9287.

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Pretrial Basics

You many not be an expert, but basic information is a great place to start. Here is a crash course on the basics.

Here are some statistics for you.

93.6% of federal criminal cases end in a guilty plea (6.4% go to trial)
75.6% of those that go to trial (the 6.4% left) are found guilty
97% of all criminal defendants are therefore sentenced

**82.8% of all federal defendants get prison sentences**

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics


A lawyers job:

First and foremost a lawyer lands a client by assuring them how strong their case is.

Second, (s)he files a bunch of motions to keep his client out of incarceration while awaiting trial (pretrial status).

Third, (s)he waits to see what the prosecution plans to do, then reacts.

Fourth, the lawyers changes his tune and convinces the client to take a plea bargain.

This usually occurs for a few reasons. 1) Prosecutors win over three-quarters of the cases that go to trial. 2) With a plea agreement the lawyer keeps his entire retainer for the least amount of hours worked.

Lastly, the lawyer submits a bunch of motions to convince the judge to hand out the shortest sentence possible (motions for downward departure). Once sentence is passed down, most lawyers shake hands with their client and say, “Good-bye.” Sometimes the defendant is allowed to report themselves to prison, but other times are taken into custody immediately.


Now what?

Now a defendant feels like (s)he is blowing in the wind without an advocate to guide them through this difficult period. Many prison consultants make a lot of money just telling people what to expect when they get to prison. We do that, too, but more importantly there is a need for somebody to help make the transition from defendant to inmate.

This transition starts well before the sentencing hearing. At sentencing, a defendant’s lawyer asks the judge to recommend a specific prison for “placement” of the defendant within the Bureau of Prisons. If that recommendation is appropriate, the BOP rarely goes against a judicial recommendation. If not, the BOP can send an incoming inmate wherever it wishes. The request is rarely based on a working knowledge of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) or how the defendant will actually be seen by it. Usually it’s a gut feeling. A prediction that the lawyer has based on the client and their criminal history. More information about recommendations is available at the bottom of this page.

Bad move. The BOP has a dozen different reasons why an inmate will qualify for a security level that is one-higher than (s)he would normally go. It’s a minefield that takes knowledge, practice, patience, and a knack for bureaucratic red-tape to navigate.

That’s us! We can accurately predict the security level a defendant will be classified as, show a list of prisons within the surrounding states which house that security level, and then make an APPROPRIATE recommendation for our client based on proximity, treatment needs, and programs offered. These factors are constantly changing from year to year, which is why this specialty is necessary.

For additional facts about pretrial, see a primer article about it here.


A Pre-Sentence Investigation and Pre-Sentence Report (PSI or PSR) are done by the US Probation Office to make recommendations to the presiding judge about your sentence. This report can make the difference of YEARS off of a sentence if handled correctly. Knowing what it should say, should not say, and needs to contain is the single most important factor in reducing the amount of time a defendant is away from home. PCR Consultants can review and give invaluable information to maximize the potential this document contains.

Objective Case Review

When an attorney is obtained, he or she is the only lawyer that can speak to you about your case, except if a second attorney is from the same law firm. Many people who are new to the criminal justice system are unaware that a legal “Second Opinion” cannot be given by an objective attorney who does not represent you. They can’t even tell you if your lawyer is doing a good job or not. However, since PCR Consultants are not a law firm, we can legally give objective opinions about the status and nature of your current defense. This can mean the difference between freedom and serving prison time while appealing a conviction due to ineffective council.

Place of Incarceration

If you take a plea bargain, the main concern of the pre-incarcerated is the location they will spend their time. What institution is better than the rest? Which is closest to home? These questions are the most basic and most frequently asked. Your sentencing judge can make a recommendation to the BOP for your placement. However, many times this recommendation is not followed. Why?

The BOP has its own policy of classifying each inmate to a specific institution and level of security. The problem is that most lawyers and judges make no effort to determine exactly what yours should be. They have a very good idea, but are often wrong.

If your judge recommends you to an institution that does not fit their criteria, the BOP will then assign you to wherever it sees fit, no matter the distance from home. However, according to BOP statistics, if a judge makes a valid recommendation, it is followed over 80% of the time. PCR Consultants can do a BOP compliant work-up on each client, match that work-up with BOP institutions that fit your needs, and give your attorney and sentencing judge the proper institution for you.

Various institutions have programs that can take up to a year off sentence time if completed plus six months to a year in a half-way house. Finding the right institution for you can mean 18-24 less months spent in prison. Up to 2 YEARS off!

Contact PCR Consultants as early as possible to affect as much of this process as you can.