Any time you are charged with a federal crime, it is a VERY SERIOUS matter.
You absolutely need to seek the assistance of an attorney. It is almost impossible to navigate the federal court system on your own. You need to contact an attorney who specializes in handling criminal cases in the federal court system. Sometimes, an initial consultation is free. You can discuss the specific facts of your case, evaluate your options and decide how you wish to proceed.
The reason that you have been charged with a federal crime is because the theft happened on federal property. If you had been charged in state court (if it happened at a Walmart, etc.), the value of the theft would have made the matter a misdemeanor.
However, there is some good news. If you have never been in trouble before, you may be eligible for what is called "pretrial diversion."
Pretrial diversion is an alternative to prosecution that diverts a defendant from prosecution to a program of supervision administered by a pretrial services officer. The U.S. attorney identifies candidates for diversion-persons who have not adopted a criminal lifestyle and who are likely to complete the program successfully. A pretrial services officer investigates the defendant, recommends for or against placement, and recommends length of supervision and special conditions. Diversion is voluntary; the defendant may opt to stand trial instead. If the person is placed in the program, he or she is supervised by a pretrial services officer. If the person successfully completes supervision, the government declines prosecution and makes no record of the arrest.
Conditions of pretrial diversion may include not having any other criminal charges during the time of your supervision, community service, restitution, court costs, supervision costs, etc.
Again, if you successfully complete your pretrial diversion program, you will not have a criminal record. Pre trial diversion means that the U.S. Attorney will hold off prosecuting you until the end of your supervision. If you complete it successfully, there will be no prosecution and therefore, no criminal record. If you do not successfully complete the program, you will be prosecuted and face a permanent federal record if convicted. You may also face formal probation, incarceration, fines, and any other sentencing provision placed upon you by the judge.
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