Ultimate Guide to Criminal Complaints

What Do You Need to Know if You Have Received a Criminal Complaint?

While criminal complaints were previously reserved for federal cases involving violent crimes and defendants who presented a risk to the public, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has recently begun issuing criminal complaints in cases involving allegations of fraud and other non-violent offenses. If you have been served with a criminal complaint, you need to engage experienced federal defense counsel immediately.

When federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office decide to initiate a criminal case, they have several options for doing so. One of these options is to issue a criminal complaint. A criminal complaint streamlines the process of making an arrest; and, while there are constitutional protections in place, individuals named in federal criminal complaints are at high risk for being taken into custody, indicted, and prosecuted for one or more federal crimes.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice

Local Counsel

Joanne Fine DeLena
Joanne Fine DeLena

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney & Former District Attorney

Local Trial & Defense Counsel

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former Federal Prosecutor

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (OIG)

Gamal Abdel-Hafiz
Gamal Abdel-Hafiz

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Chris Quick
Chris Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Kevin M. Sheridan
Kevin M. Sheridan

Former Special Agent (FBI)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Dennis A. Wichern
Dennis A. Wichern

Former Special Agent-in-Charge (DEA)

Have You Been Served with a Federal Criminal Complaint?

In the past, federal prosecutors have reserved the use of criminal complaints for cases in which the subject of a federal investigation presents a risk to the public. For example, in the wake of the of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a John Doe criminal complaint so that federal authorities could make an arrest as soon as the bomber was identified. Federal prosecutors routinely issue criminal complaints against murder suspects and other suspected violent criminals as well, again with the goal of getting dangerous criminals off of the streets as soon as possible.

Recently, however, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has begun issuing criminal complaints against non-violent offenders. In particular, we have seen instances of criminal complaints being issued against individuals charged with fraud and other white-collar crimes. This is a significant development, and if you have been served with a criminal complaint, it is important that you speak with an experienced federal defense lawyer right away.

What is a Criminal Complaint?

A criminal complaint is a formal pleading that federal prosecutors can use to begin the process of seeking an indictment and pursuing federal criminal charges. While a criminal complaint is not a necessary precursor to an indictment in federal court, adding this step has the important consequence of allowing federal authorities to execute an arrest. Once federal authorities make an arrest based upon a criminal complaint (or the suspect is made aware of the criminal complaint through service), the U.S. Attorney’s Office has 30 days to take the case in front of a federal grand jury.

The issuance of a criminal complaint allows an arrest to be made because the criminal complaint is based on probable cause. Once prosecutors prepare the criminal complaint, they must file it in the appropriate federal district court, and the judge must make a determination as to whether the document exhibits sufficient probable cause to justify taking the suspect into federal custody. As a result, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will typically work closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or other investigative agency working the case; and, once a criminal complaint has been issued, this same investigative agency will continue to work toward gathering the evidence needed to secure a federal grand jury indictment.

What Happens After You Receive a Federal Criminal Complaint?

Once you receive a federal criminal complaint, the clock starts ticking. Even if you are not arrested, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be working toward meeting its 30-day deadline to take your case before a federal grand jury. Federal agents will be continuing their investigation as well, and this means that you must be prepared to do whatever is necessary in order to defend yourself and resolve the matter as quickly and favorably as possible.

At Oberheiden P.C., our defense lawyers have centuries of combined experience in federal investigations, grand jury proceedings, and trials. Several of our defense lawyers are former U.S. Attorneys and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and this experience affords us unique insight into when, why, and how the federal government utilizes criminal complaints. If you have been served with a criminal complaint, we can use this experience to protect you. Once you engage our firm, we will:

1. Examine Your Criminal Complaint

While criminal complaints are often relatively scarce in terms of details, the U.S. Attorney’s Office must allege sufficient facts to support a finding of probable cause, and this means that a significant amount of insight can often be gleaned from the contents of the criminal complaint. Beyond reviewing the language of the document itself, our attorneys can use their extensive prior experience on both sides of federal criminal investigations to read between the lines and determine either (i) what specific allegations are at issue, or (ii) who we need to contact in order to uncover the allegations and current status of your case.

2. Intervene in the Federal Government’s Case

In any type of federal investigation, prompt and effective intervention can be crucial to slowing down the process and placing checks on the federal government’s inquiry. If you have received a criminal complaint, you are behind, and you need to catch up immediately if you are going to have any hope of preventing your case from going to a federal grand jury. Our attorneys can intervene in the government’s case on your behalf, and we can get up to speed quickly so that we can execute an effective defense strategy.

3. Assess Your Risk and Potential Defenses

Once we have a clear understanding of the allegations against you, then we can assess your risk and determine what defenses you have available. This, too, is a process that must be undertaken swiftly, and our federal defense lawyers are prepared to work around the clock to make sure that you are not unnecessarily exposed. We will examine the facts of your case in order to determine the validity of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s allegations, and we will thoroughly explore all potential defenses under the U.S. Constitution and applicable federal statutory and common law.

4. Build a Cohesive Defense Strategy

The federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office are very good at what they do, and successfully defending against federal criminal allegations requires a sound and cohesive defense strategy. Once we determine what specific defenses you have available, we will assemble an overall defense strategy that takes into account the scope and severity of the federal government’s allegations as well as the current status and timing of your criminal case.

5. Work to Secure a Pre-Indictment Resolution

The fact that you have received a criminal complaint does not necessarily mean that your case will go before a federal grand jury—although it most likely will if you do not take the necessary steps to intervene. From the time that you contact us, our attorneys will be working to secure a pre-indictment resolution. We will be in regular contact with the federal prosecutors and agents handling your case; and, once we assemble your defense strategy, we will be working non-stop to convince the U.S. Attorney’s Office that it does not have a case to pursue.

6. Provide Grand Jury and Trial Representation if Necessary

If it is too late or simply not possible to prevent the issuance of a federal grand jury subpoena, then our attorneys will represent you in court as necessary. Our federal defense lawyers have extensive federal grand jury and trial experience, and we have achieved successful results for our clients pre-indictment, post-indictment, and at trial.

Just as receiving a criminal complaint does not necessarily mean you will be indicted, being indicted does not necessarily mean that you will be forced to stand trial. Our attorneys will be constantly evaluating opportunities to end your case early, and we will seek to achieve a favorable pre-trial result by all means available.

7. Help You Recover from Your Federal Criminal Case

Regardless of how and when your case is resolved, facing federal criminal allegations can have significant negative repercussions in your personal and professional life. As defense counsel for doctors, lawyers, business owners, public officials, and other professionals, we are keenly aware of the consequences of being accused of a federal crime. Throughout your case, we will remain focused on the practical implications of your case, and we will work diligently to ensure that you are able to fully recover from the government’s inquiry.

What Kinds of Cases Does Oberheiden P.C. Handle?

Oberheiden P.C. is a full-service federal defense law firm with multiple office locations and with local counsel stationed in various cities across the country. We represent individuals and companies accused of all types of white-collar offenses, with particular emphasis on fraud-related crimes. If you have received a criminal complaint alleging any of the following, we can help you, and we encourage you to contact us immediately for a free and confidential case assessment:

Speak with a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer at Oberheiden P.C.

If you need experienced defense representation for a federal criminal case, we urge you to speak with one of our attorneys right away. For a free and confidential case assessment with a federal criminal defense lawyer at Oberheiden P.C., call 888-680-1745 or inquire online now.

If you are under
investigation
you should contact us today

Contact the Experienced Attorneys of Oberheiden, P.C. Now for a Confidential Consultation

Contact Us Now