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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27467
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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If a federal criminal complaint is charged against me and

Customer Question

If a federal criminal complaint is charged against me and the prosecutor wants a plea agreement signed and keeps pushing for a plea agreement as well as the public defender through the court. I am innocent of charges and based on the trumped up evidence they have there is no way that the charges will hold up in trial. They have been avoiding indictment for 2 and a half years. What should i do? The case was started because me and my spouse wrote checks from our bank accounts to cover bills when we were going through a rough time. A bank official reported the check bouncing to the secret service and that's how it all started. We were charged locally and paid restitution to the banks but the federal case came after we already served our time and paid the restitution on a local level. I don't want to plead guilty to something that we didn't do wrong. It was never our intent to commit a crime or fraud.
Submitted: 10 months ago via Cornell Legal Info Institute.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 10 months ago.


I'm Zoey and I'll be assisting you. I'm reviewing your question now. Please be patient while I compose a reply for you.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 10 months ago.

Although the prosecutor and your lawyer may recommend a particular plea agreement, you do have the right to go to trial on the case and put the government to its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Nobody can make a defendant take a plea. It's always his or her decision and if you want a trial, once you make your decision your lawyer is professionally obligated to mount the best defense of which he's capable.

That said, if you are convicted after trial, you will wish you'd taken the plea, because your sentence will typically be a great deal higher than the plea offer you're looking at now.

I can't tell you what to do, except to have a long talk about the strength and weaknesses of your case before you reject the deal. There's no double jeopardy that can get your Federal case dismissed because the state and Federal governments are different judicial systems. But if you were already convicted of this offense on a state level, that is evidence against you which the Federal government can use against you.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
The problem is we are both 22 years old. Have been married for almost 3 years and were going through homelessness, no jobs and had major struggles when we bounced the checks. We have since both maintained good jobs, bought a home and cars and feel that there is no way we can risk losing everything we worked so hard for. The whole thing is just blown out of porportion and is scary because we had no idea writing a bad check was a crime. Its very difficult to deal with. In your opinion for white collar crimes and with people so young do they normally want to put people in jail?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 10 months ago.

On a state level, probation is generally available for an offense of this sort. Federal crimes are more complicated because the federal government has sentencing guidelines with which it must comply. Probation may still be possible, but, in general, it is less likely.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Isn't sentencing guidelines just a guideline? Cant the judge listen to everything and base his decision outside of the federal guidelines? And why would the time be more severe if the case was found guilty at trial versus pleading guilty to a plea?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 10 months ago.

If you are convicted of a crime after a trial, you will have been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The facts against you will all be known to the judge and they will be far more damaging than they are now. That is why the stakes go up once you go to trial. There is much less latitude in plea bargaining in federal court due to the guidelines. The prosecutor has some latitude. The judge has very little.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Is there any way to negotiate a plea agreement to include no jail time? And is it true that all members of the jury have to agree? I was under the assumption that if one member of the jury does not agree that you are guilty that the case gets found not guilty
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
through the evidence that the prosecutor that has presented to my lawyer there case is not strong the evidence does not amount to much. The main problem is that the public defender is paid by the courts and the thing im worried about is that the main reason why they want to have me sign a plea is so that they can guarantee a conviction. If I don't take the plea im pretty sure the case will not make it past trial. Im not sure though...