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FAQs

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     Who are the Indiana Federal Community Defenders?

The office of the Indiana Federal Community Defenders is an organization of criminal defense attorneys. It is similar to a private law firm. We are not paid by the court or hired by the court. We represent people charged with federal crimes in the Southern District of Indiana who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. We can only represent people if the court appoints us based on financial status. Once appointed, we work for you. Our job is to give the best defense possible. The defense team includes your trial attorney, an attorney who specializes in research and writing, an investigator, a paralegal, and a legal secretary. These resources will be used to help win the best possible outcome for your case.  
 
If there are other defendants in the case, we can represent only one person. If we can’t represent you, and you qualify financially, we will arrange for the court to appoint a private lawyer, known as a “panel attorney.” 

     How do I contact my lawyer?

Our office is on the 32nd floor of the Chase Tower in downtown Indianapolis, IN - 111 Monument Circle, Suite 3200, Indianapolis, IN 46112. Our phone number is 317-383-3520. We accept collect calls. If you call collect during business hours and your call is not accepted, it only means that your attorney is not in the office. We are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but you can leave a message at any time. We cannot call you while you are in jail, but your attorney will visit you. If you are not being held in Marion County Jail, and you are at Henderson County Jail or Grayson County Jail, your attorney will speak with you by videoconference or you may be transported to Indianapolis to meet with your lawyer.  If you are out of custody you will meet with us in our office. 

     I have been assigned a panel attorney, who is it and where can I find contact information?

If you are unsure who was assigned to your case, you may call our paralegal Tracy Bell at (317) 383-3520. Judy can help you figure out who your attorney is.
 
If you don’t know how to contact your panel attorney, click here for contact information

     What is a federal case?

A federal case is the result of being charged with a federal crime. A federal crime is either a crime that violates a law passed by Congress for the whole country, or a crime that happened on property owned by the United States government, like a military base.
 
For a video introduction to the federal judiciary, click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLEkRyJgHJI

     Do I need a federal public defender?

If you are under investigation for a federal offense, or if you were contacted by a federal law enforcement agency or any other agency concerning a federal investigation or alleged crime that could be federal, or if you were subpoenaed to appear in a U.S. District Court, you may need a Federal Public Defender. 
 
You have the right to speak with an attorney prior to questioning and you have the right to an attorney with you during questioning. If you are contacted by any of the following agencies, tell them you are requesting an attorney and contact our office using the information provided on the home page:
 
The United States Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice, Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and U.S. Postal Inspector. 

     I have been charged in a state court case, can your office help?

We do not handle state court cases in this office, if you’ve been charged in state court in Indiana, you can find information about organizations offering legal assistance to low income persons at the Indiana Justice Center website: http://www.indianajustice.org/Home/PublicWeb

If you’ve been charged in Marion County, you can visit: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/County/PubDef/Pages/home.aspx

And for other counties, visit the Indiana Public Defender Council for more information:
http://www.in.gov/ipdc/general/government.html

     Can I be charged in both state and federal court?

The short answer is yes. The “double jeopardy” prohibition does not prevent both the state and the federal government from pursuing prosecution. Your attorney can explain the likelihood of this happening depending on the circumstances of your case.

     Is bail possible?

In the federal system, bail is not automatically set. You will have a detention hearing, at which the judge will decide whether to release you or keep you in jail for now. 

     Where will I be held if I am detained?

As a federal prisoner, you are in the custody of the United States Marshal. You will be held in one of the following places:
 
Marion County Jail
40 S. Alabama St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 327-1574
General information:  http://www.indy.gov/eGov/County/MCSD/Pages/Marion-County-Jail.aspx
Visitation: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/County/MCSD/Pages/Marion-County-Jail-Visitation.aspx

Henderson County Detention Center
380 Borax Dr.
Henderson, KY 42420
(270) 827-5560
General information: http://www.hendersoncountydetention.com/index2.html
Visitation: http://www.hendersoncountydetention.com/visitation.html
 
Grayson County Detention Center
320 Shaw Station Road
Leitchfield, KY 42754
(270) 259-3636
General information: http://www.gcdetention.com/
Visitation: http://www.gcdetention.com/visitation.asp
 
Clay County Detention Center
120 S. Alabama St.
Brazil, IN 47834
(812) 446-2535
Website: http://www.claycountydetention.com/
 
 
What you need to know:
-          DO NOT discuss your case with anyone except your attorney or other members of your defense team. Everything you say to your lawyer and your defense team is completely confidential. Do not discuss your case with any law enforcement officers. If they try to talk to you, tell them that you want your lawyer there.
-          DO NOT discuss your case with other inmates, including your cellie, in any language or code.  Anything you say could be used against you. Do not discuss the case with friends or family, in any language. All phone calls are recorded. You should assume all social visits are being recorded and that everyone is cooperating with law enforcement. Other people, even family members, could be forced to testify about what you say to them. Your lawyer, and the people working for him or her, are the only ones you should talk to about your case.
-          DO NOT believe what you hear from other inmates about what might happen to you. Most inmates are not federal prisoners and do not know about federal cases. Even among federal prisoners, there are many false rumors about sentencing deals and other matters. Your lawyer will have accurate information.
 
 
Click here for information to mail to your loved one.

     I have read a book or talked to another inmate who offers advice different from that of my attorney, what should I do?

We strongly caution you against taking the advice of untrained acquaintances or commercial enterprises which prey on those in prison. The information is often misleading and following the advice can be harmful to your case and to you.  
 
For instance, a popular book strongly recommends that you not be honest with your attorney and implies that the longer you keep your attorney in the dark the better off you will ultimately be. Additionally, the book suggests that attorneys who bring a plea agreement to a client early in the case are lazy and overly-eager to end the case with a guilty plea.
 
In actuality, federal cases are complex and are highly fact specific and the more honest and forthcoming you are with your attorney the better the defense and guidance they can provide. Additionally, not only is your attorney ethically bound to present any plea offer from the government to you in a timely manner, but the Supreme Court has stated explicitly that failure to present you with an offered plea agreement rises to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel. Missouri v. Frye, 132 S.Ct. 1399 (2012).
 
In short, be your own best advocate, but be wary and discuss any concerns you may have with your attorney.