How common are plea deals in federal court?
If you are facing federal criminal charges, you are in good company. After all, federal prosecutors bring criminal charges against thousands of Americans every single year. Most criminal prosecutions end with plea deals, though.
According to reporting from NPR, 98% of federal criminal prosecutions conclude with defendants agreeing to plead guilty. They do so often in exchange for less severe consequences. Even though federal plea deals are exceedingly common, you should think carefully before accepting one.
What does the plea deal mean for you?
For your guilty plea to be legally valid, you must make it knowingly. That is, you must know what the plea bargain means for you, including any consequences you might face. As a result, if you are unfamiliar with some part of the deal, it is probably premature to accept it.
Is your guilty plea voluntary?
Federal law also requires any guilty plea you make to be voluntary. Indeed, no federal official should threaten you into accepting a plea bargain. On the other hand, even though you might have some reservations about the plea deal, it is still possible to voluntarily accept it.
Are you truly guilty?
Plea bargains are a marvelous tool for federal prosecutors, as they allow them to move cases quickly through the judicial system. You might not realize, though, that accepting a plea deal means pleading guilty. As a result, if you are innocent or have a valid defense, you might not want to enter a guilty plea.
When it comes to negotiating and offering plea deals, federal prosecutors usually have the upper hand over criminal defendants. Ultimately, to ensure you make the right decision, you must scrutinize every aspect of any plea bargain you receive.