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Trial or plea federal court

San Francisco, CA |

Aside from the obvious benefits of having a reduction in charges which will result in lesser time in prison what are things to consider in order to know if you stand a chance in federal court? Tax and wire fraud case. Are the statistics true (95% or so of trials result in a guilty verdict)? Or this just fear mongering from the us doj. Are trials very difficult to win? Are there ways of winning trials without taking the stand?

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Sometimes the conviction rate combines both pleas along with trial convictions. It also combines trials of innocent persons along with trials of people obviously guilty. That makes for a less than accurate picture. Nonetheless, trials are always difficult, risky, and emotionally draining, which is why cases plead out. Trials can be won with or without the defendant taking the stand. It depends on a number of factors, not the least of which would be the strength of the prosecution's evidence.

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4 comments

Asker

Posted

Can you be forced to take the stand in federal court if you are the defendant? Based on your experience of what you have see are FPD's capable of mountain solid defenses at trial?

Douglas Holbrook

Douglas Holbrook

Posted

No you most certainly cannot. The Fifth Amendment is alive and well in both the Federal Courts as it is in the State Courts. And yes, based upon my experiences of what I have seen, the FPD's are as capable as anyone of mounting a solid defense at trial.

Asker

Posted

Are juries skeptical of defendants that do not take the stand? Do you feel it damages credibility?

Joshua Sachs

Joshua Sachs

Posted

I will take the liberty of sticking in my oar here. There may sometimes be skepticism on the part of a jury towards a defendant who does not testify, but in my experience defendants who do testify generally do themselves far more harm than those who do not. But this is very much a case by case decision. The law regards the right to testify as personal to the defendant and therefore places the ultimate decision whether or not to testify in the defendant's own hands, but everyone would agree that it is a decision to be made only after careful review and discussion with counsel.

Posted

These are weighty and difficult questions with no "right" or "wrong" answers. You need to be asking these questions of skilled and experienced legal counsel who knows your case inside out and is accountable for the advice given to you. This is not the place for informed advice or guidance on such large concerns. No one on Avvo can possibly have enough information about the specifics of your case -- which will inevitably determine the outcome of your case -- to provide you any reliable answers here.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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Posted

This responds to one of your comments, sepcifically whether juries are skeptical about defendants who don't take the stand. The answer unfortunately is yes, even though the judge instructs them that the defendant does not have to testify or indeed present any case at all. During voir dire I always ask the jury if they will respect the defendant's right not to testify and everyone always says yes. When you ask them the basis for their decision after trial, however, all too often you hear "we never heard the defendant's story..."

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Posted

What I have seen often in state court but never in federal court is a prosecution failing at trial because the prosecutor is unprepared. You can count on the AUSAs to do their homework, both on the law and on the facts, to recognize the weak points in the Government's case and to anticipate them, and to work hard to corroborate Government witnesses whose credibility is doubtful. Defendants are acquitted in federal court, but counting on a federal prosecutor to be asleep at the switch is not a good strategy for success..

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