These cases com-mence when the local U.S.attorneys have reason to believe that a violation of the U.S.Penal Code has occurred.After obtaining an indictment from a federal grand jury,the U.S.attorney files charges against the accused in the district court in which he or she serves.Criminal activity as defined by Congress covers a wide range of be-havior,including interstate theft of an automobile,illegal importation of narcotics,assassination ofa president,conspiracy to deprive persons of their civil rights,and even the killing of a migratory bird out of season.
  After charges are filed against an accused,and ifno plea bargain has been made,a trial is conducted by a U.S.district judge.In court the defen-dant enjoys all the privileges and im-munities granted in the Bill of Rights(such as the right to a speedy and pub-lic trial) or by congressional legislation or Supreme Court rulings (for in-stance,a 12-person jury must render a unanimous verdict).Defendants may waive the right to a trial by a jury of their peers.A defendant who is found not guilty ofthe crime is set free and may never be tried again for the same offense (the Fifth Amendments protection against double jeopardy).If the accused is found guilty,the district judge determines the appropriate sentence within a range set by Congress.The length ofa sentence cannot be appealed so long as it is in the range prescribed.A verdict of not guilty may not be appealed by the government,but convicted defendants may appeal ifthey believe that the judge or jury made an improper legal determination.
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