I YOU HAVE BEEN OFFERED A PLEA BARGAIN IN FEDERAL COURT, SHOULD YOU ACCEPT THE PLEA OR GO TO TRIAL?
This is a difficult question to answer. It completely depends on the plea bargain offer and your culpability for the offense or offenses you are charged with. Typically, the plea bargain offer would require you to serve less time in jail than would be required if you went to trial and were found guilty on all of the charges. However, it is quite common for a defendant to only be actually guilty for some of the offenses he is charged with and not all of them. In this scenario it is absolutely imperative that you discuss all of the possible scenarios with your lawyer.
Some things to make sure you understand before accepting a plea bargain in federal court:
(1) What will you be admitting to?
(2) Does the plea bargain provide for a specific sentence?
(3) Do you fully understand how the sentencing guidelines will affect your case and whether you will be eligible for a downward departure or subject to an upward departure?
(4) In any cases involving amounts such as financial cases and drug cases do you fully understand how the sentencing guidelines apply and may change based on the probation officers calculations?
(5) Are there any mandatory minimum sentences that apply to your case?
(6) If you are not a United States citizen, will the plea bargain affect your ability to remain in the United States?
(7) If there will be a sentence of confinement, do you understand how “supervised release” works?
(8) Are you waiving your right to appeal the application of the sentencing guidelines or will you be able to appeal how the trial judge applies the guidelines?
by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization