What to Ask a Florida Federal Defense Attorney

Facing a federal indictment is a frightening prospect. The federal legal system is complex, the consequences are significant, and the need for expert legal guidance is paramount. Choosing the right Florida Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer is the crucial first step in your defense. To help you make an informed decision, we discuss the key areas you should discuss with any attorney you are considering hiring to handle your federal indictment. 


At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa, we welcome all questions our client might have about our credentials, our experience, our knowledge of the area of law involved in your case, and our history of successfully obtaining the best results for our clients. We also are completely transparent in our fee structure and we encourage you to ask any questions about fees and costs you or your family might have. 


Trust is the foundation of any attorney-client relationship.  





During the first meeting with your prospective lawyer, you should not be inhibited about ascertaining the attorney’s qualifications. In many cases, you may already be aware of the lawyer’s good reputation in the community. Perhaps that’s why you are there. But learning first-hand about your lawyer’s qualifications is perfectly acceptable and the lawyer should not be offended. 




You can also find out how long have the lawyer has been handling these complex matters? A seasoned attorney with years of practice under their belt is better equipped to handle the intricacies of federal cases. Experience means your attorney has managed real legal and procedural issues and understands the unique challenges with the federal law involved in charges. 


Familiarity with the Federal Court System 


Next, find out if they appeared before the judges and prosecutors you’re likely to encounter? Knowledge of local rules, judges’ tendencies, and the nuances of the local legal landscape is invaluable. An attorney well-versed in the specific federal courts where your case will be heard is able to provide insights that can prove instrumental in selecting and following the right legal strategy for your individual case. 


Understanding Your Charges 


Do you understand the charges you are facing? The law is often more complicated than the indictment language may first suggest. Statutes are the subject of much analysis and comment by judges throughout the country, including those sitting on Circuit Courts of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. The judicial opinions issued by these courts affect the way the statute applies to the facts of your case.  


Federal charges can encompass a wide range of offenses, from white-collar crimes like fraud and embezzlement to drug trafficking, conspiracy, and more. It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the charges against you and the potential consequences if convicted. Your attorney should be able to explain these charges in plain language, ensuring you grasp the gravity of the situation. 


Your attorney should be able to discuss all of these issues in detail, explaining to you the various factors that will influence the direction of the prosecution and the available defenses. 


What are the potential penalties? Your lawyer will be able to describe a range of possible penalties that depend on which facts are established and which are not. The federal law often outlines a wide range of potential penalties in the sentencing guidelines. 


A skilled attorney will critically evaluate the evidence, identify weaknesses, and strategize accordingly. They may point out potential flaws in the government’s case or areas where the evidence may be challenged. 


Defense Strategies 


Keeping in mind that the case is new to your prospective attorney, they should still have a general sense of the potential defenses and legal strategies. Are there avenues to challenge the evidence, procedural errors to exploit, or opportunities for negotiation? A skilled attorney should offer insights into potential defense strategies tailored to your case. They might discuss possibilities like challenging the legality of evidence collection, arguing lack of intent, or exploring affirmative defenses. A thorough discussion here ensures you’re both aligned in your approach to the case. 


A comprehensive strategy might involve reviewing all available evidence, meticulously building a strong defense, and exploring plea bargain opportunities. Your attorney should provide a clear overview of their approach and how it aligns with your goals. Understanding the broader strategy will help you endure the complexities of the legal process with confidence. 


Understanding how they plan to challenge the government’s evidence is crucial. Were the evidence collection procedures executed legally? Will you need to bring in expert witnesses, or employ other tactics to weaken the prosecution’s case? This knowledge ensures you’re on the same page regarding the tactics to be used in your defense. Pre-trial motion practice is also an important component of most skilled criminal defenses. Motions to exclude certain evidence obtained unlawfully is often a productive avenue to establishing leverage for negotiation. 


Trial Experience  


Finally, you should inquire about the lawyer’s experience with federal trials. While trials in federal court are fairly rare because a negotiated settlement is often preferable, being prepared for trial is essential. Most very experienced trial lawyers have a good sense of when to try a case and when to seek an alternative disposition.  


But even if a trial isn’t the primary goal, a well-prepared attorney’s reputation for trial skills will encourage prosecutors to recognize them as tough courtroom opponents. This can often influence a prosecutor’s decision to offer a more favorable plea agreement. 


Read More > What Does Board-Certified Mean for an Attorney? 


Trust Our Attorneys  


Remember, your choice of attorney can significantly impact the outcome of your federal indictment case, making thorough discussions imperative. Ben Stechschulte is a board-certified criminal defense attorney who formally worked as a prosecutor. He is uniquely positioned to fight for your rights no matter the federal charges you face.  


Don’t wait. Contact us at 813-280-1244 for a case review today.  


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