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Should You Plead or Go to Trial on Criminal Charges in Federal Court?

Negotiating Plea Deals in Federal Cases

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.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

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.

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