With events soon to place a number of high-profile foreign targets into what many regard as one of life's most stressful events, being indicted in Federal Court for major felonies, this is an appropriate time to discuss what outcomes defendants can expect, whether risks can be mitigated, to what degree, and how it all plays out in the end.i
It all comes down to one question: will you be convicted or acquitted in a jury trial ? Before discussing specifics, looking at the statistics allows one to grasp the reality of what happens to those named as defendants in Federal criminal cases. the most recent Pew Research Center study found that:
(1) 90% of defendants entered plea of guilty.
(2) 8% of the cases were dismissed before trial.
(3) Just 2% went to trial.
(4) Of those who chose to go to trial, less than 1% were acquitted.
If that is not sufficient reason for a defendant to mitigate his or her risk, and enter into a plea agreement which, in most cases, involves the dismissal of some of the pending charges, and a shorter sentence than would most likely be imposed after putting the US Attorney's Office, and the court system, through the expense and trouble of a trial, especially when the evidence is overwhelming, as is the case when the case is properly prepared and tried. In that case, all the counts are generally retained, which increases the sentence. Criminal defense attorneys call this the Trial Penalty, the fact than individuals who choose to go to trial can therefore face higher sentences if they invoke the right to go to trial and lose.
Faced with the foregoing, and even in the face of your attorney's assertions that the Government cannot prove its case, and you have a good chance of an acquittal, and if you lose, you have an excellent chance to have your conviction reversed on appeal, Objective risk management in an emotional time dictates that, if the US Attorney has sufficient evidence and the witnesses to convict you, going to trial will only result in a very long sentence. A word to the wise is sufficient.