White-collar crimes are quite different from the typical criminal activities as they do not involve the use of violence. Rather, they are more about securing financial gains through deception and involve businesses or professionals doing a wrongful act. While they seem to be less serious, the implications in terms of penalties and punishment can be as critical as in the case of any violent crime. If you are charged and found guilty of white-collar crime, you can end up in the prison, have to pay a massive fine, or even suffer reputational damage.
It becomes vital to have a defense strategy in place when your business faces allegations of such crimes. While you may seek an acquittal if you are not guilty, a plea bargain is an option for criminal defendants who may have committed the crime or simply do not have a strong defense. Essentially, a plea is meant to curb the risk of a trial successfully and even obtain a reduced punishment through a negotiated compromise with the prosecution. Your attorney may recommend it when there isn’t a better option. But before you go ahead with a plea bargain, you need to understand what it is all about and how it works.
Understanding the concept of a plea bargain
A plea bargain is a compromise agreement negotiated between the criminal defendant and the prosecution. It applies to any kind of criminal activity, including white-collar crime, and entails acceptance to plead guilty to criminal charges. In return, the prosecution recommends that the court offers a significant reduction in the sentence or even drop certain charges against the defendant. For example, a defendant charged with bank fraud may also have various other supplementary charges against them, such as conspiracy to commit fraud. If the defendant opts for a plea bargain, the prosecution may offer a compromise to drop the conspiracy charge. They may even recommend that the court cut down the sentence on the fraud charge.
Things to consider opting for a plea bargain
As a defendant, you are not obligated to accept a plea bargain. You can rightfully fight out through trial litigation if you have a solid defense. An expert Anchorage AK criminal defense attorney would recommend proceeding to trial if the prosecution is hostile or unwilling to make an adequately attractive plea bargain offer. Conversely, the lawyer would also want you to explore the benefits of a compromise before deciding the next step. Whatever option you choose, there is a need to understand the pros and cons thoroughly first.
There is always an element of risk with litigation, even if you think that you have an airtight defense. There are always chances that you end up with an unfavorable verdict or unexpected penalty. A plea bargain eliminates this risk to a significant extent. On the other hand, there is a downside to this option as well. Prosecutors use certain tactics to encourage criminal defendants to enter plea bargains. They stack up myriad charges for creating a serious situation that scares them enough to plead guilty. It is vital to bear in mind that you are not coerced into doing so when you have a solid defense in place.
A white-collar plea bargain is different
Compared to the typical criminal cases, negotiating a plea bargain for white-collar criminal defense is somewhat different. These defendants have an advantage because their crime does not involve violence. When there is gross violence involved, the court is more likely to consider stringent action and serious penalties for the guilty party. While other defendants have limited space for negotiations, white-collar defendants are in a better position because conviction is often challenging to achieve in corporate crimes. There are good chances that the prosecutors may agree to drop the supplementary charges and retain only the principal ones. Moreover, you can expect them to agree to a period of probation rather than seek a sentence of imprisonment.
When it comes to achieving a minimal penalty or sentence through a plea bargain, everything boils down to the expertise and experience of your criminal defense attorney. It is best to let them guide the decision, particularly because the reputation of your business is at stake. They will weigh the situation minutely and decide what would work the best in your favor. While they may think that pleading guilty would save you in some situations, they would absolutely recommend a trial battle if you are not guilty and have a strong defense strategy to prove the same in the court.
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