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Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:23 pm
If you are charged with a federal crime, you have the option of negotiating a plea deal or taking your case to trial. In a vast majority of federal cases, defendants opt to plead guilty as opposed to letting a jury decide their fates. According to Pew Research, only 2% of such matters go to trial in a given year. Let’s take a closer look at why so many people choose to accept a plea deal and whether it may be in your best interest to accept the prosecutor’s offer in your proceeding.
Why Do So Many Defendants Accept Plea Deals in Federal Cases?
The primary reason why defendants tend to take plea deals in federal cases is that the plea deal often represents the best outcome that they are going to get. As a general rule, prosecutors will stack charges on top of charges if they have to secure a conviction in a courtroom.
Introducing additional charges increases the likelihood that a jury will find you guilty of something even if it isn’t the crime that you were originally accused of committing. For example, let’s say that you were charged with being in possession of a controlled substance. If you plead guilty to the charge, your punishment may include little more than probation and a token fine.
However, if you opt for a trial, you might face weapons charges, money laundering charges or whatever other charges may be appropriate based on the evidence authorities have on you. In such a scenario, you may be more likely to simply accept a plea deal as opposed to being convicted on even a minor charge.
Many Accept a Plea Deal Because Doing So Provides Certainty
It isn’t uncommon for federal trials to last for several months or years. If you are unable to make bail, you will likely spend that time in federal custody, which is akin to being punished before you’re even found guilty. By pleading guilty, you know how much time that you’ll have to serve in prison, where you’ll likely serve that time and whether you have the possibility of being paroled. In addition, knowing what your future holds makes it easier to manage your assets and make plans to ensure that your kids are properly cared for while you’re away.
A Plea Deal Allows You To Be There for Your Kids
If you are a single parent, accepting a plea deal may ensure that your kids stay out of the foster care system. In some cases, not being there for your kids may result in losing custody of a son or daughter. Therefore, taking a plea deal may be a convenient way to minimize the damage that your actions may cause to the health and safety of your offspring.
Why Would You Seek a Trial?
As there are many potential benefits to taking a plea deal, you may wonder why anyone would want to seek a trial in a federal case. Perhaps the best reason to seek a trial is that you are relatively certain that the allegations against you are based on shoddy evidence. If you can prove that a government employee, police officer or another witness lied about your actions, it may be enough to have a case dismissed.
The same may be true if you can prove that evidence was obtained in an illegal manner. Your attorney will do everything in his or her power to cast doubt on the allegations made against you in court. Even if an attorney’s actions aren’t enough to get a full acquittal, it may help to create leverage for a better plea deal.
It’s Your Right to Seek a Trial
It’s important to note that it is your legal right to seek a trial, and this is true regardless of how much pressure a prosecutor, your attorney or anyone else puts on you to simply accept a plea deal. It’s also worth noting that you have the right to a speedy trial. Generally speaking, this means that you have the right to receive an outcome in your matter within several months of being charged. However, your attorney will likely advise you to waive this right as a few months may not be long enough to create a quality defense.
If you are facing federal charges, you should hire an attorney to help with your case as soon as possible. Doing so may prevent you from saying or doing anything that might aid the government in its investigation into your prior activities. Furthermore, an attorney may be able to ensure that all of your legal rights are protected whether you choose to plead guilty or want to take your case to trial.
Should You Plead Or Go To Trial On Criminal Charges In Federal Court?
When you get charged with a federal crime, automatically you are going to be extremely confused about what you should do next. One of the main things that will be running through your mind is whether or not you should go to trial. It is important that you understand both sides, and it is important that you find an attorney who will lead you in the right direction.
When it comes to pleading guilty of a federal crime, there are a few ways you can do this. You can plead contested or uncontested. Contested means you are not admitting to the crime, but you are going to be charged and sentenced as if you did do the crime. Uncontested means you are not fighting the charges but just looking for the best deal possible. When it comes to federal charges, many people plead guilty to get their time down, especially since more federal prison sentences start near the 12-year mark. Pleading guilty will usually cause you to only do about 25% of your time. This is sometimes even lower if there is a victim who does not want to sit through a trial for weeks.
When you decide to go to trial, you are putting everything on the line. If you are found guilty, you will have to serve the maximum penalty in prison, and there is usually no way for you to argue this when it comes to sentencing day. One of the good things about going to trial is that you are going to be able to tell your side of the story. This can come in the form of witnesses, your own testimony, and physical evidence. Furthermore, you may also get to have the media get involved with daily reporting of the trial. This will allow you to make your plead known to the entire community. Another great thing about going to trial is that you may win. If you do win, all of the charges will be dropped immediately. You can go on with your daily life, and you do not have every worry about going back to court on those specific charges. However, you just need to remember that there is a chance you will lose.
A good federal attorney will give you the perfect advice. After looking at the charges the decision will be made by the attorney. If you agree with the attorney’s decision, he/she will most likely represent you. This attorney will give you a detailed explanation as to why you should or should not go to trial. This will solely be based on a percentage perspective. The attorney will show you the percentage risk of going to trial as opposed to the percentage risk of pleading guilty. After observing this information, you may be more comfortable with the attorney. The great thing about going through this process is that you can tell whether the attorney is serious or just wants to make a quick thousand dollars.
Any type of federal charges are serious. You cannot just decide to go to trial or to plead guilty. This decision in itself is going to take some time because this decision can push your life forward or hold your life back. However, when the information is explained to you by a lawyer, it will most likely make more sense and even calm you down. The great thing about having a good attorney is that the attorney will study similar cases to yours. After presenting this to the court, the judge and the prosecutor will have to obey certain guidelines, especially when it comes to the sentencing factor. This will help the attorney put together a defense around those guidelines.
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