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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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How Do Federal Plea Agreements Work? Terms

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:16 am

How Do Federal Plea Agreements Work? Terms

A federal plea agreement is a formal contract between a federal prosecutor and a defendant in a criminal case. It allows the defendant to plead guilty to criminal charges in exchange for concessions by the prosecutor, such as dismissing or reducing certain charges or recommending a lighter sentence. Plea agreements are very common in the federal criminal justice system and allow both sides to avoid the time and expense of a trial.

Typical Terms in Federal Plea Agreements

Federal plea agreements commonly contain certain key provisions, including:

  • Charges: The charges to which the defendant will plead guilty, which may be reduced from the original indictment. Other charges are often dismissed.
  • Factual basis: An agreed upon summary of what the defendant did to commit the crimes.
  • Sentencing recommendations: The sentence length the prosecutor will recommend to the judge. This is not binding on the judge.
  • Relevant conduct: Other uncharged criminal conduct the defendant admits to that can affect sentencing.
  • Forfeiture: Agreement to forfeit assets connected to the crimes.
  • Restitution: Agreement to pay restitution to victims.
  • Waivers: Such as of appeal rights and ability to withdraw the guilty plea.
  • Cooperation: Requirements for the defendant to cooperate with prosecutors against others.

Considerations in Accepting a Plea Agreement

  • No guaranteed outcome: Judges are not bound by plea agreements and can impose different sentences.
  • Admissions and waivers: Defendants must admit guilt and waive important rights like appeals.
  • Uncharged conduct: Admissions about uncharged conduct could increase sentence length.
  • Cooperation requirements: Cooperating with prosecutors against others can be dangerous.
  • Immigration consequences: Pleading guilty can lead to deportation for non-citizens.
  • Civil liability: Admissions in a plea can be used against the defendant in civil lawsuits.
  • Sex offender registration: Pleading guilty to certain crimes requires sex offender registration.

Carefully weighing the pros and cons of a plea offer compared to going to trial, with the advice of an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer, is critical in deciding whether to accept an agreement.

Alternatives to Plea Agreements

Defendants do have alternatives to entering plea agreements:

  • Defendants can plead guilty without negotiating a plea bargain.
  • Pleading guilty “open” to the court leaves sentencing fully to the judge’s discretion.
  • Even if convicted at trial, cooperating with prosecutors afterward may earn sentencing reductions.
  • Defendants maintain the right to reject plea offers and take their case to trial.

Which option is best depends on the unique circumstances of each case. Experienced federal criminal defense counsel can advise on the pros and cons of different options.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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