In many scenarios when someone has been charged with a crime, they have the hope of a plea bargain, particularly if the prosecution has built a strong case against them. Many people understand the concept of plea bargains, largely due to the fact that television shows and movies often include them within the plot of the story. When faced with a criminal trial, though, people are prone to wonder if the prosecution will offer a plea bargain and, if so, whether or not they should accept one.

Although plea bargains are quite common in state courts, they are typically rarely offered in federal court, for many reasons. If offered one, it is in the accused’s best interests to work with a federal criminal defense lawyer that can determine if the plea bargain is in their best interests.

Advantages of Plea Bargains

Plea bargains are an agreement between the prosecution and the individual accused of a crime. Plea bargains involve the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for a lighter sentence. It is easy to assume that plea bargains only hold advantages for the defendant because their sentence is not as harsh. However, they also hold benefits for the court. By offering a plea bargain, the court will not have to hold a trial, which takes time and uses the court’s valuable resources. When a plea bargain deal is accepted, the accused does not have to stand trial.

Plea Bargains in Federal Criminal Cases

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do allow for plea bargains in federal criminal trials, as per 18 USC Chapter 221. Still, plea bargains are rarely offered in federal cases because federal prosecutors do not have as much leeway in offering them as prosecutors do in state criminal court. The first reason for this is that some federal statutes strictly prohibit offering a plea bargain for certain offenses.

Another reason plea bargains are rare in federal cases is due to the fact that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines have minimum sentences for certain crimes. As such, a judge must hand down at least that minimum to an individual that is convicted of a crime. The prosecution cannot offer a plea bargain that includes a sentence lighter than any given minimum sentence.

Even when a plea bargain is offered, the policy of the Justice Department states that the plea bargain must accurately and honestly reflect the conduct of the defendant. As such, federal prosecutors have few choices when creating a plea bargain deal that is fair, but still offers a lighter sentence.

Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Can Advise on a Plea Bargain

Many defendants become excited at the thought of a plea bargain because it offers them a chance at a lighter sentence. As hopeful as it may seem, it is crucial to work with a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer that can advise on whether a plea bargain deal is fair. If you have been charged with a federal crime, our attorney at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel can help. Attorney Garfinkel understands the federal criminal justice system and will help you navigate it to give you the best chance of success. Call us today at 312-270-0999 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation so we can discuss your case.


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