Federal plea deals – When someone is charged with a federal crime, it can be very scary. Federal crimes can seem a lot more serious and complicated than state crimes. The elements of the crime, the punishments for the crime, and even how a plea is taken can be vastly different from what someone faces in state court.
In this blog we will discuss federal criminal pleas, how they work, and what considerations must be made. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a federal criminal defense attorney.
Why take a federal plea at federal court?
Federal sentencing can be extremely harsh, and include mandatory minimums, firearm enhancements, and detrimental criminal classifications. Additionally, federal cases tend to involve longer and more thorough investigations than equivalent state cases, which often lead to a large volume of evidence against the defendant.
Because of these factors, federal cases are often extremely difficult to win at trial. Plea offers often allow for certain considerations that would make it much more advantageous to the defendant to take a plea than to risk losing at a criminal trial.
The federal government and a criminal defendant can resolve a federal criminal case by coming to an agreement regarding the charges. The federal criminal defense attorney in the case and the federal prosecutor work out many specifics regarding the conditions of that plea, including but not limited to:
- Certain charges being dismissed
- Whether substantial assistance by the defendant will be factored in
- Whether there will be credit given for timely acceptance of responsibility
- What the sentencing range will be
- Whether any sentencing enhancements apply
- Whether any mitigating factors exist
- Specifics regarding measurements of quantities and dollar amounts
The specifics of the plea arrangement are typically documented in a plea affidavit that must be signed by the prosecutor, the defendant, and the federal criminal defense attorney.
Federal criminal pleas and sentencing hearings
After a federal criminal plea is accepted and an affidavit is signed, in order to complete the process, the defendant will be involved in a hearing. In this hearing, the court will determine whether the defendant entered into the plea agreement knowingly and voluntarily.
Additionally, the appropriate sentencing will be determined by the judge based on arguments from the federal criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor.
When the federal government comes after someone, it is a serious matter that requires professional help. If you need a federal criminal defense attorney in North Carolina or a federal criminal defense attorney in South Carolina, contact us.