Thousands of people every year are caught up in the federal judicial system. These individuals have committed some form of federal crime and are tried by federal prosecutors. In many instances, people who face federal charges will be offered some sort of a plea before they go to trial. It is often a torturous decision whether or not to take a plea. Fortunately, there are a few parameters that are helpful for anyone trying to decide on this monumental question.
The vast majority of all criminal cases end in some form of plea. It is easy to see why this is the most popular form of case resolution for all levels of the judiciary. Trials are difficult, stressful, and expensive. Lawyer fees for even the most simplistic trials can easily run into the thousands of dollars. For the millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, that amount is simply too much for them to overcome.
A trial creates a situation where they may be weeks or months when a person’s case is unresolved. They might be fired from their job or have to face upheaval in their home life due to the charges hanging over their head. In addition, trials have an uncertain outcome. A significant factor in determining the outcome of many cases is the nature of the randomly picked jury that no defendant can control.
The most important factor in deciding whether or not to take a plea is the strength of the evidence presented. In some cases, it is even more important than whether or not a person actually committed the crime they were accused of. Millions of innocent people accept a plea arrangement every year. While they may know deep down that they did not commit a particular crime, the evidence may be clearly against them in one way or another.
Pleas can still do enormous damage to individuals. A large number of plea bargains result in some amount of prison time. Many prosecutors prioritize securing jail sentences for the people that are accused of crimes. This tendency is greatly amplified in the federal system. In many instances, federal crimes are viewed as more serious than state-level crimes. People in the federal system often serve out more of their terms than people incarcerated in state institutions. Even a short stint in jail can create trauma that a person carries with them for decades.
Pushing for a trial eliminates the guarantee that a person will be restricted from employment or have to face jail time. It also expands the amount of time when a prosecutor can push for charges to be dropped. They can spend their time presenting evidence and making the best possible case to the jury. In some instances, a trial where the jury finds in favor of the defendant can aid the defendant in a myriad of ways. They can sometimes file a lawsuit if they believe the proceedings of their investigation had been unfair in any way.
Anyone who is facing criminal charges of any kind needs to consult the help of a lawyer. A lawyer will help the defendant evaluate the evidence against them as well as their own resources and the nature of the plea they may receive. Experienced attorneys can also help to tip the balance over to the defendant. If a prosecutor knows they have flimsy evidence and are going up against an experienced attorney, they will either push for a beneficial plea or drop charges entirely. An attorney is often the most important factor in deciding whether to plea or go to trial.
The attorney will meet with an individual and go over the evidence. They will help a person decide what they want to do and how much evidence is currently for or against them. Attorneys also help a person craft their defense if they chose to go to trial. In serious cases, many attorneys will push for a defendant to go to trial. A more severe case has a lower chance of being settled with a reasonably minor plea.
Anyone who faces federal charges should not panic. Instead, they need to take action. Defendants need to secure release from jail as soon as possible. Once they are out, they should seek the advice of a lawyer. Defendants should refrain from any direct plea negotiations with a prosecutor or with investigators who seem to speak on behalf of the prosecution. A lawyer is the essential party to help a person make the best possible choice about fighting for their innocence.
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