Many federal criminal cases involving white-collar crimes, such as fraud, are resolved through plea deals. This means that you and the prosecution come to an agreement about how to resolve your charges without having a trial.
You may initially want to say no to a plea deal and fight your charges, and while this may be the right choice in some cases, there are many benefits to a plea deal.
Why you should consider a plea deal
When you resolve your case through a plea deal, you typically receive a lighter penalty than going to a trial and being found guilty. Even if you believe you have a strong defense, you are still leaving your fate in the hands of a jury or judge, which is inherently risky.
A plea deal also saves you time, since your trial might not be scheduled for weeks or even months. One of the biggest advantages to a plea deal is that it can potentially save your career or reputation, since you are avoiding the publicity of a trial.
Find out what your typical deal looks like
Once you have decided to resolve your case through plea bargaining, learn about the standard deal for your type of case. If your charges are relatively common, the prosecution may already have a standard offer they present to defendants.
The crime you are charged with is composed of different elements. The prosecution must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction against you at trial.
If the prosecution is willing to negotiate a plea deal, chances are they know that some of their evidence is weak.
Analyze all evidence against you
Thoroughly examine all of the evidence the prosecution has and learn which elements they are going to have a hard time proving. Use this knowledge to potentially secure a more favorable offer.
Be prepared to learn new information during negotiations. The prosecution should disclose all evidence they have against you, and some may come as a surprise. Be flexible and ready to adjust strategy as necessary.
Criminal charges are serious, and a strong defense is necessary. Criminal defense attorneys provide advice on the likelihood of success at trial and help negotiate the best possible resolutions.