Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.
Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.
Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.
Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:29 am
Dealing with federal charges can be scary. The federal government has lots of power to charge people with crimes and punish them. But there are ways to get federal charges dropped or reduced. This article explains how the federal justice system works and what your options are if you’re facing federal charges.
The main difference is that federal courts handle federal crimes, while state courts handle state crimes. Examples of federal crimes include:
Federal charges tend to be more serious with harsher punishments. Unlike state courts, federal courts can give life sentences and death penalties. The federal government also has more resources to investigate and prosecute people.
Yes, federal prosecutors can drop criminal charges before a trial if they want to. Defendants usually have to negotiate with the prosecutor to get charges dropped. Here are some reasons charges might get dropped:
However, federal prosecutors usually don’t drop charges easily. They have broad discretion on whether to drop charges. A judge can’t force them to if they refuse.
If prosecutors won’t drop charges, your criminal defense lawyer can file motions to get charges dismissed. Some common reasons charges can get dismissed pre-trial:
Your lawyer will file motions arguing these defenses and try to get charges dismissed before trial. It’s not guaranteed to work, but it’s possible in the right circumstances.
Another option is entering a pretrial diversion program. These are special programs where you agree to complete certain requirements like rehab, community service, restitution, etc. If you successfully complete the program, charges get dismissed. Examples of federal diversion programs include:
These programs can be a good option to avoid having a conviction on your record. But you have to qualify based on your charges and criminal history.
Over 90% of federal criminal cases end in plea bargains, not trials. This involves negotiating with prosecutors to plead guilty in exchange for lesser charges or a lighter sentence. Prosecutors often agree to drop some charges if you plead guilty to others. Some ways plea deals can help:
Your lawyer will negotiate for the best possible deal under the circumstances. It’s very hard to beat federal charges at trial, so plea bargains are common. But you give up your right to trial and appeal when you take a plea.
If you can’t get charges dropped and lose at trial, your options become more limited. You can file appeals, but federal appeals courts rarely overturn convictions. Reasons convictions get overturned after trial include:
These are very high bars to meet though. Most appeals fail. If your appeals fail, you’ll have to serve the sentence. The president has pardon power for federal crimes, but presidential pardons are very rare.
The bottom line is not to take federal charges lightly. The federal government has an overwhelming conviction rate. Work closely with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to explore your options. This could include getting charges dismissed pre-trial, entering a diversion program, or negotiating for a favorable plea bargain. With the right legal strategy, it may be possible to reduce or even avoid a harsh federal prison sentence.
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