Ryan M. Pacyga Esq.

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Should You Work With Federal Authorities To Mitigate Your Case?

Every situation is unique and every case is unique. There are times when it’s absolutely advantageous to work with federal authorities and there are times when that can be very harmful to your situation. What is most helpful is to have an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who knows how to work through each case and can have a dialogue with the U.S. attorney to determine what your exposure is, and try to broker a cooperation agreement. There are times when it’s not a good idea to cooperate but later, it becomes a good idea, and vice versa. There are times when it’s best to remain silent the entire time. Ultimately the decision will be yours, but having a lawyer who is routinely in federal court can make a big difference for you. 

How Do Sentencing Guidelines Work In Federal Court?

There are two things you have to consider when you’re looking at being sentenced. One is mandatory minimum sentences, which are more powerful than the sentencing guidelines. For example, let’s say the sentencing guidelines may recommend a sentencing range of 60 to 75 months. If your crime has a  but you may be facing a mandatory minimum of 120 months, the judge must give you the 120 months UNLESS you can use a loophole in the law, such as a safety valve of substantial assistance for example. Even though your guidelines are lower, the mandatory minimum sentence would govern and would require you to be sentenced to 120 months. Other times, there is no mandatory minimum and the sentencing guidelines are where the judge will begin their analysis of how you should be sentenced. 

The sentencing guidelines are now only advisory and a judge is free to sentence within that range or lower, unless there is a mandatory minimum. The guidelines use your criminal history score as a horizontal axis. The more trouble you’ve been in, the higher your score. On the vertical axis is the base offense level. You line up the horizontal axis and the vertical axis and you get to a box that has a range that a judge begins to look at as a suggestion for where your sentence should be. However the sentencing guidelines are complex, so be sure to have an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. One mistake in calculating the guidelines can lead to several extra years in prison. 

Should You Accept A Plea Bargain Instead Of Going To Trial In A Federal Case?

Every case is unique. Sometimes, plea bargains are the best you’re going to do. Other times, the plea bargain you’re offered is nowhere near what a good lawyer could get for you. Sometimes, we can fight the case and have a suppression hearing. If we succeed on that, the whole case may be thrown out. Of course, you always have a right to trial. In order to be found guilty, all 12 jurors must unanimously agree, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you’re guilty. A plea offer is not always a good idea because you may either get a better offer or be able to go to trial and beat the case. 

Why Is It Critical To Hire An Experienced Attorney To Handle A Federal Criminal Case?

Federal cases are much more complex than the average state criminal case. Of all the criminal defense lawyers in the nation, only about 25 percent a small percentage of us routinely handle federal criminal defense cases. The stakes are much higher and the laws are much more complex, and it’s generally harder than state court. It is akin to whether you would need a regular doctor for a heart problem versus a cardiologist. You would want to go to a cardiologist if you have a complex heart issue. The same would be true if you have a federal criminal case. There is so much at stake that you would want to make sure you’re hiring a lawyer who is very experienced in federal court and knows the unique tendencies of each of the judges and the federal prosecutors well. 

For more information on working with federal authorities in a case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 612-474-5420 today or using our online contact form. 

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