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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 Insight

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

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 11:28 am


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

If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, you’re probably wondering—what are my chances of beating this thing? As a defense lawyer whose represented hundreds of federal defendants over the years, I get this question a lot.

The short answer is, it depends. Federal criminal cases vary widely in complexity and strength of evidence. But generally speaking, the odds are stacked against defendants. According to the Pew Research Center, only 2% of federal criminal cases went to trial in 2018, and of those, nearly 8 in 10 ended in convictions. That said, don’t lose hope! With an experienced federal defense lawyer on your side, there are plenty of ways to fight the charges and aim for the best possible outcome.

Why Are Federal Cases So Hard to Win?

There’s a few reasons why the deck seems stacked against federal defendants:

  • Federal prosecutors have huge resources. They can take their time building air-tight cases with experienced agents and investigators.
  • Many federal crimes have mandatory minimum sentences. So there’s major incentive to take a plea deal instead of risking trial.
  • Juries may be biased, especially for certain crimes like drug trafficking or child pornography.
  • Federal sentencing guidelines are strict. Even if convicted at trial, you may not get much sentencing benefit versus taking a plea.

With all this working against defendants, it’s easy to get discouraged. But don’t lose hope! Read on to learn some key ways an experienced federal defense attorney can defend your case and aim for the best possible outcome, whether that’s beating the charges at trial or negotiating a favorable plea deal.

Fighting Federal Charges at Trial

Let’s start with the trial path. Going to trial in federal court is less common but can sometimes be the right choice, especially if you have a strong defense and are facing charges with stiff mandatory minimums. Here are some of the main ways we defend federal cases at trial:

Challenging the Evidence

A lot of federal cases rely heavily on witness testimony or physical evidence obtained through searches. As your defense lawyer, we’ll scrutinize all the evidence through motions to suppress, aiming to get unreliable evidence thrown out so it can’t be used against you. Some common challenges include:

  • Illegal searches – If evidence was obtained without probable cause or a warrant, we can argue it was an unconstitutional search and should be excluded.
  • Unreliable witnesses – Witnesses who “flip” often have credibility issues we can expose through cross-examination.
  • Faulty forensics – We scrutinize lab reports and expert testimony, looking for sloppy procedures, mistakes, or “junk science.”

If we can knock out or undermine the prosecution’s key evidence, it weakens their case and boosts our odds at trial.

Raising Affirmative Defenses

Beyond attacking the prosecution’s evidence, we also look for affirmative defenses that excuse otherwise illegal conduct. Some examples:

  • Duress – You acted under threat of harm by another person.
  • Entrapment – The crime was orchestrated by undercover agents.
  • Insanity – You lacked mental capacity to understand the criminality of your actions.

While affirmative defenses are uphill battles, they provide another avenue to fight the charges.

Sentencing Mitigation

Even if we can’t beat the charges at trial, presenting mitigating evidence can help reduce your sentencing exposure. We dig into your background, mental health, family issues, or any other extenuating circumstances that the judge can consider in fashioning a fair sentence.

The odds may be long, but it is possible to win at a federal criminal trial with an aggressive defense focused on excluding evidence, raising defenses, and mitigating sentencing. But in many cases, a plea bargain may be the safer route…

Negotiating a Plea Deal

Given the low trial rate, most federal cases end in plea bargains. The prosecution usually starts with an inflated offer, hoping to scare you into accepting anything less. But an experienced negotiator can often knock it down significantly. Here’s how we negotiate to get you the best deal possible:

  • Highlight weaknesses in their case to reduce charges and enhancements.
  • Offer cooperation against higher targets to help earn a 5K1.1 departure.
  • Present mitigating factors to argue for variances below the guidelines.
  • Secure recommendations for alternatives to prison like probation, home confinement, or community service.

At the end of the day, federal plea deals are about damage control. But by negotiating aggressively, we can often minimize charges, reduce sentencing exposure, and avoid mandatory minimums.

What Impacts Your Chances of Winning?

As we’ve seen, “winning” a federal criminal case can mean different things—beating charges at trial, or getting charges dropped or reduced through plea bargaining. Your chances of success depend on several factors:

  • Strength of evidence – Cases with weak or limited evidence offer more opportunities to fight back.
  • Sentencing exposure – The lower the potential sentence, the less incentive to take a plea.
  • Type of crime – Certain charges like fraud or sex offenses are harder to defend at trial.
  • Criminal history – First-time offenders often get more sentencing leniency.

There are no guarantees when battling federal criminal charges. But an experienced defense lawyer intimately familiar with federal courts, prosecutors, and the latest case law can help maximize your chances at the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

The Bottom Line

If you or a loved one is charged with a federal crime, don’t go it alone! Get an experienced federal defense lawyer on your side. With sharp defense strategies, aggressive negotiation tactics, and in-depth knowledge of federal sentencing, we can help you navigate this complex process and achieve the most favorable outcome possible. While the odds are daunting, you still have rights. And with hard work and perseverance, it is possible to win – whether at trial or through a plea bargain. Don’t lose hope! The fight is worth it.

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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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It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

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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...

~George Cherubini

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