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White Collar Criminal Defense: Plea Bargaining Tactics

White Collar Criminal Defense By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2018/06/29 at 12:28pm

If you have been charged with a white collar crime (i.e., a nonviolent crime intended to secure financial gain through deception, and involving a professional or someone with specialized technical skills), then you may be feeling particularly vulnerable.  After all, the consequences for such crimes can be quite serious, and may include imprisonment, fines, and the loss of your professional licenses.

Plea bargains are an option for many white collar criminal defendants, and in fact, most criminal litigation ends with some form of a negotiated compromise between the prosecution and the defendant.  In some cases, a plea bargain allows the defendant to successfully navigate around the inherent risk of a trial and obtain a reduced punishment — depending on the circumstances surrounding your conduct, this may be preferable to proceeding to a public trial and exposing oneself to additional and extensive liability.

What is a Plea Bargain?

Plea bargains are essentially compromise agreements negotiated between the prosecution and the criminal defendant.

Whether you are a white collar criminal defendant (or a street crime criminal defendant), the acceptance of a plea bargain means that you will have to plead guilty to certain criminal charges.  This guilty plea is then rewarded by the prosecution.  Depending on the compromise that was reached, the prosecution may recommend that the court reduce the sentence significantly or may even choose to drop certain charges.

For example, suppose that you have been charged with bank fraud, along with various other supplementary charges, such as conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  The prosecution may offer you a plea bargain compromise where you plead guilty for the bank fraud charge and get the conspiracy charge dropped.  The prosecution may also recommend that the court reduce the sentencing on the bank fraud charge.

Benefits of Brokering a Plea Bargain

You are not required to accept a plea bargain.  If you wish to combat the prosecution’s case through trial litigation, then you are perfectly within your rights to do so — and in fact, if the prosecution is particularly hostile or does not make a sufficiently attractive plea bargain offer, it may be preferable to proceed to trial.

Generally speaking, however, there are a number of benefits to brokering a plea bargain compromise.  It’s worth noting that all litigation involves an element of risk.  Even if you believe you have an airtight defense, there may be a small chance that the verdict is unfavorable, or that the sentencing is above-and-beyond what you expected.

Prosecutors use certain strategies to encourage criminal defendants — including white collar criminal defendants — to enter plea bargains.  By stacking charges against you, even charges that seem unrelated, the prosecution creates a situation where the potential consequences of a loss at trial could lead to an overwhelming sentence that is out-of-comport with the actual misconduct.

Returning to the previous bank fraud example, the prosecution is hoping that by stacking a conspiracy charge on top of the bank fraud charge, that the heightened risk of punishment will induce you into making a plea bargain.

White Collar Plea Bargaining is Different

Negotiating a plea bargain in the context of white collar criminal defense can be somewhat different than a “street crime” plea bargains.  In fact, white collar criminal defendants typically have an advantage during such negotiations.  Unlike street crime litigation (i.e., involving defendants who have been charged with a violent crime), where the defendant has limited space to negotiate over the guilty plea, white collar defendants are not usually in a position where they have to assume that the prosecution has the facts necessary to support a conviction.

As a conviction may be more difficult to achieve in the white-collar context, your attorney has more room to negotiate a beneficial plea bargain.  Prosecutors may agree, for example, to drop all supplementary charges and recommend a period of probation as opposed to a sentence of imprisonment.

Consult an Experienced Alexandria White Collar Defense Attorney for Assistance

Here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC, our attorneys have extensive experience representing a range of clients (individuals and entities) in white collar criminal defense litigation.  We understand the challenges typical of such litigation and are well-positioned to negotiate with prosecutors and secure a favorable resolution to the case.  If negotiations break down, we are capable (and thoroughly prepared) of proceeding to trial and obtaining a favorable verdict on behalf of our client.

Call (703) 888-1943 or submit an online form to speak with an experienced Alexandria white collar defense attorney today.  Though our primary office is located in Virginia, we have obtained successful verdicts in a number of other jurisdictions, including Maryland and Washington D.C. courts.