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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn many scenarios when someone has been charged with a crime, they have the hope of a plea bargain, particularly if the prosecution has built a strong case against them. Many people understand the concept of plea bargains, largely due to the fact that television shows and movies often include them within the plot of the story. When faced with a criminal trial, though, people are prone to wonder if the prosecution will offer a plea bargain and, if so, whether or not they should accept one.

Although plea bargains are quite common in state courts, they are typically rarely offered in federal court, for many reasons. If offered one, it is in the accused’s best interests to work with a federal criminal defense lawyer that can determine if the plea bargain is in their best interests.

Advantages of Plea Bargains


Posted by on in Federal Crimes
Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerA federal indictment is a legal document charging someone with a federal crime. The prosecution can only obtain an indictment after arguing their case to a grand jury. The jury then convenes and determines whether or not there is probable cause that the individual committed the crime. If the grand jury determines there is probable cause, an indictment is issued. Receiving a federal indictment is very stressful and can cause those charged to think the worst as they imagine spending several years in federal prison. However, not every federal indictment ends this way. Those charged with a federal crime do have options, and they should discuss all of them with a federal criminal defense attorney. Dismissal This is the best chance a person has at retaining their freedom after receiving a federal indictment. When a case is dismissed in federal court, the charges are dismissed and the case is thrown out of court. According to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 47, when the defense wishes to have a case dismissed, they must file a motion with the court. In order to obtain a dismissal of the case, the defense must show within their motion that the defendant should not have been charged with the alleged crime, or that their constitutional rights were violated. Obtaining a dismissal is much more difficult in federal court than it is in state court. This is due to the fact that in federal court, a grand jury consisting of 12 people has determined there is probable cause. In a state court, only one judge is convinced of probable cause. The law views the opinions of 12 people as more substantial than the opinion of just one. However, when the prosecution has a weak case, dismissals are still a possibility. Plea Deal Under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defense team and the prosecution can strike a plea deal. This is the best option when the defense believes they will not receive a successful verdict at trial. During a plea deal, the defense team will meet with the prosecution and agree to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a lesser sentence. Certain sentencing factors, such as enhancements, are often thrown during the negotiation. It is important for defendants to understand that when a plea deal is made between the prosecution and the defense, the court must approve it. If the court decides not to approve it, the case will go to trial. Trial After receiving a federal indictment, many defendants think taking the case to trial is the worst option. This, however, is not always true. A jury made up of 12 people will determine a defendant’s innocence or guilt throughout the course of a trial. This means the prosecution must convince the entire jury of a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When they fail to do so, the jury must find the defendant innocent. Going to trial is often the best chance a defendant has at beating the charges and retaining their freedom. Review Your Options After a Federal Indictment with a Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Anyone that is indicted on federal charges may think they are out of options. This, however, just is not true. A passionate Chicago federal criminal defense attorney can help. If you have been indicted by a grand jury, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-629-0669. We know the many options available, and we will review them all with you to determine which one is right for your specific case. We offer free consultations, so call us today and we can begin discussing your case.


plea bargain, guilty plea, Illinois criminal defense attorneyWith high-profile criminal prosecutions regularly capturing national attention and the intense dramatization of courtroom proceedings on television shows and movies, many may be led to believe that every criminal charge will play out in an oak-paneled room, in front of a duly-appointed judge and jury. The reality is, however, that less than ten percent of criminal cases ever reach trial, and in federal cases, only around three percent will ever be tried. Instead, the vast of majority of criminal proceedings are resolved by means of a plea bargain.

What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain, in effect, is a negotiation between prosecutors and a defendant, which seeks to reach a resolution to the case without requiring a trial. During the process, a defendant generally will agree to plea guilty to the specified charge or a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence and/or cooperation with the prosecution of related cases. The Illinois Supreme Court mandates that any plea bargain must be voluntary on the part of a defendant who clearly understands the charges and associated penalties.


due process, pleading guilty, Illinois criminal defense attorney, constitutional rights, Only a small percentage of criminal cases in the United States ever go to trial. Most criminal cases end in a defendant's guilty plea. Even a plea bargain, though, requires the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney because prosecutors and the courts must still respect a defendant's constitutional right to due process.

As the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago recently explained, even a seemingly minor procedural issue can have serious due process implications. The Court determined that a defendant's guilty plea was invalid because the trial judge improperly delegated the handling of the plea to a lower official, known as a magistrate judge.

Unfortunately, it can be common for local residents' constitutional rights to be ignored by police officers and sometimes even in court. Ensuring all of your rights are respected every step of the way is one key reason why it is imperative to secure the aid of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer is often the difference between facing serious punishments and getting a chance to move on with your life.

If you have engaged in illegal activity, it may be in your best interest to enter plea negotiations with the government, accepting responsibility in exchange for a reduced sentence. It is also important to understand that you must tell the truth as a part of any plea bargain. Prosecutors and judges will treat a defendant more harshly if he or she has lied or misled them during the plea bargaining process. A recent decision from the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago underscores this point.

United States v. Hargis

Lori Hargis faced a common problem among many homeowners in a down economy. She wanted to sell her Kentucky residence but could not find a buyer. She decided to burn the house down and collect on the insurance covering her as a homeowner. In 2007 she hired Leslie White to set the house on fire, which he did in December of that year. Hargis subsequently filed an insurance claim for $866,000 to cover the value of the house and its contents.

It is a federal crime to use any instrument of interstate commerce, such as the mail or internet, to unlawfully damage or destroy a building by means of fire. In 2011, a grand jury indicted Hargis and White on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by using fire. White entered a guilty plea. The trial judge sentenced White to three years in prison, more than double what the U.S. attorney said the federal sentencing guidelines advised. The judge nonetheless felt the severe sentence was necessary to deter others who might contemplate a similar arson scheme.

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