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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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On a federal case, I was charged with wire fraud. The government

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On a federal case, I was charged with wire fraud. The government has offered a plea agreement after 4 1/2 months after my arrest. They want me to sign a plea agreement with $5m in restitution w/o providing proof of the losses. They told me to either sign the plea or go to trial where they plan on hitting me additional charges. Can they do this w/o giving me exact losses?

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Hello, it appears that you are having technical problems. Can you see this and respond?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I do not see an answer to my question.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The only responses is "hello there"
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes I see this response .
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Brandon are you going to give me an answer to my question?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I can see this question but I do not see your answer to my question.
Yes, but we had to close out the "chat" mode, and that unfortunately slows down the exchange. Thank you for your patience.

You first said that the plea deal mandates $5M in restitution without providing proof of losses, but you then asked if they could have you sign a plea deal without giving you exact losses. Those are not quite the same thing. Is the problem that the plea deal has not clearly defined your restitution obligation upon accepting the plea? Or is the problem that the plea does not offer proof that $5M is the proper amount to make restitution?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Brandon thanks for helping me out with this? First there are 5 defendants, including me. I have to idea what kind of deal they are getting. However, on my plea they offered a certain level of criminal responsibility that I am not happy with but where satisfied. However, the issue is with restitution? They have not stated the actual losses, they are saying its going to be higher than $5m, so just accept the $5m. Is this legal or does the law state they have to give me actual loses?
That's a valid question. Thank you again for your patience. Since we have experienced some technical problems, I wanted to quickly let you know that I am drafting your response and your answer will post momentarily.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you again for your question. I should start by saying that because the nuances of every case are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. That said, the answer to the question of whether it is legal for the prosecution in a criminal case to offer a plea deal that includes restitution where the actual restitution owed is unknown is "yes", as long as the prosecution has probable cause to believe that the actual restitution equals or exceeds the amount offered in the plea deal.

Although the prosecutor's burden of proof in court is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor's ethical obligation is to not prosecute any crime unless there is at least probable cause to believe that the crime has been committed. Where restitution would be due, the prosecutor's obligation would be to only seek that restitution for which there is probable cause to believe is owed to the victims.

Any type of litigation, including a criminal prosecution, is a fluid situation--evidence comes to light during the course of the process that will oftentimes alter or reduce the charges and related restitution. It is possible, and even likely, for any given case that the prosecution may know that a certain amount is owed by a defendant at the onset of a case, but not have a firm determination of the amount until later in the prosecution.

To give an example, you may have a violent criminal who injured their victim causing $10,000 in medical expenses. Initially, it is clearly known that the victim's medical bills equal $10,000, but there may be complications that manifest much later that would raise the victim's medical expenses. The prosecution may nonetheless offer a plea deal that includes restitution of $10,000. As long as the prosecution is not seeking restitution in excess of what it has probable cause to believe is owed, it has the power to settle.

I again thank you for your patience, and I am sorry that you experienced technical problems at the onset of this exchange. I do hope to provide you with satisfactory service. Please feel free to let me know if clarification is needed. One you are completely finished, please feel free to positively rate me--it does not cost anything extra to do so, and it is how I am compensated. Thanks.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for the answer. Is it normal in federal cases that I was not given a copy of a search warrant when they searched my office & took things out of it?
Hi again. It is normal for law enforcement to not show a search warrant at the time of the search. There is no statute requiring law enforcement to show the search warrant to person who's premises are being searched, and the courts have not (yet) said that it has to be produced at the time of the search, so it's not required (even though it might be appropriate for any given situation). Technically, a search warrant doesn't even have to be executed when the property owner is even present.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Wow that sucks. Thanks for your help. I will rate you now. Thanks again.