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Photo of Attorneys David F. Fessler and Timothy E. Schneider and Joseph F. Grimme
Photo of attorneys David F. Fessler, Joseph F. Grimme and Timothy E. Schneider

How plea bargains work in federal cases

On Behalf of | Jul 23, 2020 | Firm News

Kentucky residents and others who are facing federal criminal charges may be offered a plea bargain. A plea deal allows a person to receive a lighter sentence in exchange for admitting his or her guilt. Allowing defendants to take a deal means that their cases can be resolved in less time, which helps to ensure that the court system can operate more smoothly. Defendants benefit from accepting a plea because they have more certainty over the outcome of their cases.

It is important to note that prosecutors don’t always have the ability to offer a deal. This is because some federal crimes come with mandatory minimum sentences. In some cases, a plea deal cannot be offered unless the Department of Justice (DOJ) agrees to the terms. Depending on the circumstances, multiple government agencies may be required to approve the terms of a proposed deal because it can be offered to a defendant.

it is important to note that a prosecutor cannot threaten to seek the death penalty merely because a defendant refuses to agree to a plea deal. In many cases, federal prosecutors are not allowed to accept an Alford plea in which a person pleads guilty to a crime that he or she doesn’t admit to committing. Depending on the circumstances of a given case, prosecutors may be required to submit any facts being used to establish that a defendant is guilty.

Those who are charged with tax evasion or other federal offenses may be subject to a variety of penalties if convicted. These penalties may include paying a fine or restitution, spending many years in prison or being put to death. An attorney may help a defendant negotiate a plea deal that may allow that individual to avoid some or all of those penalties.