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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 Likely Are You to Win Your Federal Criminal Case? A Lawyer’s Advice

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

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 11:29 am


How Likely Are You to Win Your Federal Criminal Case? A Lawyer’s Advice

If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, you’re probably wondering–how likely am I to win my case? As a defense lawyer whose represented hundreds of clients charged with federal crimes, I get this question alot.

The short answer is, it depends. Federal criminal cases vary widely in complexity. The likelihood of winning depends on the specific charges, the evidence against you, the law and precedents that apply, and a variety of other factors.

What Impacts Your Chances of Winning

Here are some key factors that can impact the likelihood of winning a federal criminal case:

  • The Specific Charges – More serious charges like murder, terrorism, or major drug trafficking are harder to fight than less serious charges.
  • Criminal History – Defendants with long criminal records have a harder time winning than first-time offenders.
  • Strength of the Evidence – Cases with weak or circumstantial evidence are easier to win than those with strong forensic evidence.
  • Legal Factors – The law & precedents in your jurisdiction and how they apply to the charges against you.
  • Sentencing Exposure – The potential maximum sentence if convicted affects plea bargaining leverage.

There are two main ways to win a federal criminal case – either through a dismissal before trial, or through an acquittal at trial. Let’s look at each scenario.

Winning Through Dismissal Before Trial

Many federal cases end through plea bargaining. But its also possible to get charges dismissed before trial. Here are some common ways charges get dismissed:

  • Suppression of Evidence – If evidence was obtained illegally, it may be suppressed. This could result in dismissal.
  • Speedy Trial Violations – Defendants have a right to a speedy trial. Violations of this right can lead to dismissals.
  • Discovery Violations – If prosecutors fail to turn over required evidence, charges may be dismissed.
  • Statute of Limitations – Charges must be brought within a certain time limit, or they can be dismissed.

Dismissals before trial are uncommon though. Most federal cases that “win” do so through plea bargaining and reduced charges. But dismissals do happen in some cases.

Winning at Trial Through Acquittal

The most dramatic way to win is through an acquittal (not guilty verdict) at trial. This is rare – around 90-95% of federal criminal trials result in convictions. But acquittals do happen, usually when:

  • The evidence is weak, contradictory, or circumstantial.
  • Key evidence is excluded, leaving big holes in the prosecution’s case.
  • There are credibility problems with key witnesses.
  • The defense presents compelling counter-evidence of innocence.
  • The defense pokes major holes in the prosecution’s version of events.

Winning an acquittal at trial requires skill. The defense attorney must aggressively cross-examine witnesses, object to evidence, and present persuasive counter-arguments. Most importantly, the defense must instill reasonable doubt in the jury’s minds.

How Federal Sentencing Works

If convicted, federal sentencing is based on the US Sentencing Guidelines. The guidelines provide sentencing ranges based on:

  • The severity of the charges (base offense level)
  • Specific offense characteristics
  • Adjustments for acceptance of responsibility, criminal history, etc.

While the guidelines are advisory, judges rarely depart from them. Mandatory minimums may also apply for certain charges. This complex system allows prosecutors to threaten severe sentences, forcing defendants to plead guilty.

Should You Plead Guilty or Go to Trial?

Given the high conviction rate at trial, many defendants plead guilty. But others still roll the dice if they feel the case against them is weak. Key factors to consider are:

  • Your chances of winning at trial based on the evidence and possible defenses.
  • The potential sentence if convicted versus the plea offer.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case.
  • Your risk tolerance and willingness to go to trial.

It’s critical to discuss trial prospects thoroughly with your lawyer before making this big decision.

Finding the Right Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer greatly impacts your chances of winning. Look for a lawyer who:

  • Has extensive federal criminal trial experience and success.
  • Is respected by prosecutors and judges.
  • Will aggressively defend you and not just recommend pleading.
  • You feel comfortable with and can be honest with.

An experienced federal criminal trial lawyer can often get better plea deals or win dismissals/acquittals when less experienced lawyers can’t. Public defenders are often overwhelmed but do their best. Hiring private counsel is expensive but may be worth it if you can afford it.

The Bottom Line

Every federal criminal case is challenging. But with an experienced lawyer fighting aggressively for you, it is possible to win even against the power of the federal government. Don’t take pleading guilty as a foregone conclusion – make the prosecutors have to prove their case against you.

If you’ve been charged federally, I encourage you to sit down with a lawyer to evaluate the evidence, charges, and possible defenses in your case. This will allow you to make an informed decision on how best to proceed. With dedication and hard work, it is possible to win even federal criminal trials. So don’t give up hope!

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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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After meeting with several law firms, I chose the Spodek Law Group not only for their professionalism and experience, but for the personal attention given to me right from the initial consultation. It is important to recognize how crucial having the right legal team is when faced with potentially life altering events that impact families and the lives of loved...

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