A federal investigation may uncover substantial evidence that could assist a prosecutor in proving fraud. Someone facing felony fraud charges has a right to a jury trial. However, after reviewing evidence and hearing witness testimonies, a jury may decide to provide the prosecutor with a conviction.
A judge may then order a lengthy sentence, which could include up to 20 years of imprisonment for each fraud count. A sentence could also require paying restitution and spending several years on supervised probation.
Forgoing a jury trial in exchange for a reduced charge plea bargain
When presented with a plea bargain, the defendant may have an opportunity to obtain a resolution closer to his or her own terms. Entering into a deal with a prosecutor, however, requires some understanding of how it usually works.
The defendant first pleads guilty to at least one charge. In exchange for the admission of guilt, a prosecutor may then drop several other charges.
The federal courts give prosecutors the legal authority to file numerous charges in anticipation of a defendant’s consideration of a plea deal. By avoiding a trial, the court can save time and money. According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of the defendants in federal court cases pleaded guilty rather than exercising their right to a trial.
Using psychology to persuade a defendant to enter a plea
By making use of certain psychological techniques, a prosecutor might attempt to overwhelm the defendant with an intimidating degree of purported evidence and legal information. When it appears that he or she could face a jury and receive a harsher punishment, admitting to the prosecutor’s charge that reflects the least amount of sentencing may appear to be a much more favorable outcome.
Someone facing charges also has a choice of pleading no contest. This generally means not admitting to any guilt but accepting the court’s punishment. A prosecutor’s offer of a plea deal may, however, reflect greater sentencing leniency when the defendant agrees to admit to some guilt.