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A plea deal's role in the federal criminal justice system

The federal criminal justice system is a bit different from the state system. Defendants in the state system are much more likely to be offered a plea deal than those who are a facing a federal system.

Plea deals provide a way for the prosecution to lessen the court's docket load while still ensuring that people who have committed crimes serve punishments. Instead of having to prepare for a trial, the prosecution resolves the case by working out a deal that exchanges the defendant's guilty plea for a specific sentence recommendation.

Why don't plea deals work for federal cases?

The chance of a suitable plea deal being reached in a federal case is unlikely because of the sentencing structure in the system. Many charges come with a mandatory minimum sentence. This doesn't give much leeway for negotiations when they are dealing with the defendant. Additionally, some statutes that govern federal criminal charges don't allow for plea deals.

Federal prosecutors must ensure that they are working within the confines of the law when they try to work out a plea deal with the defendant. For the most part, they won't work directly with the defendant, but will only communicate with that person's attorney. This leaves people who are representing themselves without the chance to work out a deal.

What should defendants know about plea deals?

Defendants must remember that there are no appeals possible for plea deals. Once you enter into the deal, you waive your right to appeal any aspect of the case. For this reason, you must ensure that you are ready to deal with the penalties that are handed down.

Another point you must consider in these cases is that the sentence you agree to as part of the plea deal is nothing more than a suggestion. The judge can sentence you to a harsher sentence if they feel that it is necessary based on the circumstances of the crime.

Anyone who is facing federal criminal charges must ensure they know what defense strategy options they have. These charges are very serious and come with hefty penalties. Working with someone who is familiar with the federal system is beneficial because they will be able to help you learn about what options, responsibilities and rights you have.

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