Approximately 90 percent of criminal cases in the United States settle through a plea agreement. A plea agreement is an arrangement negotiated between the defense and the prosecution in order to resolve a criminal case before it goes to trial. In many cases, plea agreements can be beneficial to both defendants and the prosecution. With federal crimes, a well-negotiated plea agreement can mean the difference between years in prison and a long happy life.
Federal prosecutors recently dropped multiple charges against a California man indicted for home robbery. Following a federal investigation, the man was charged with multiple federal offenses including conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, conspiracy to possess marijuana and the intent to distribute, impersonating an officer and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime. Each federal offense carries very serious penalties.
In addition to dismissing the charges against the one defendant, another man in the same case reportedly reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. According to the plea agreement negotiated with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the man pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in exchange for the government dismissing the remaining counts.
Based on the charges, the agreement likely saved the man considerable federal prison time.
There are many benefits to entering into a plea agreement. For the defense, an agreement can mean a reduction in charges, less risk and the possibility of avoiding substantial amounts of jail time. For the prosecution, a plea agreement means a lighter caseload and, more importantly, it ensures a conviction. Therefore, a plea agreement may be beneficial to all parties involved.
Source: Lake County News, "Federal prosecutors dismiss one defendant, reach plea agreement with another in home invasion case," Elizabeth Larson, April 29, 2013