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Does the federal gov. offer you a plea bargain before indictment ?

Trenton, NJ |

I have not yet been indicted in a federal case and my attorney recently told me I have 48 hours to let him know if I will give my full cooperation and or disclosure.

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Attorney answers 6


Yes, this does occur sometimes. And it is often very advantageous to take such deals. But I do not know the facts of your case. You should work with your attorney concerning this matter.


Negotiations in federal court are very different from negotiations in state court. In state court, a prosecutor and defense attorney typically will agree on a specific sentence and you will only enter the plea if the judge is going to accept that negotiated sentence. In Federal court, the negotiations between the Assistant U.S. Attorney and the defense attorney usually involve what charge the person will plead to, but the sentence is left to the Federal Judge to determine at the time of sentencing. The Assistant U.S. Attorney may agree to make certain recommendations to the judge about what is appropriate, but federal judges will rarely accept a plea of guilty with a negotiated sentence.

In the Federal system, the judge must consider federal sentencing guidelines and give great deference to those guidelines. The guidelines are prepared by a probation officer. Not the U.S. Attorney's Office. So negotations with the U.S. Attorney's Office usually entail discussing what charges you would plead guilty to (which could reduce the maximum sentence the judge can sentence you to as well as the guidelines), and waiving any minimum mandatory sentences that may apply. Cooperation with the federal government may also reduce your guidelines. Listen to your lawyer. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are extremely complex.


First, if you have an attorney, why are you asking this question? You have to trust the advice the person who is representing you gives.

Occasionally, the government will offer a deal before seeking an indictment. In such a case, a criminal information is typically filed. These agreements are always in writing, so make certain your's is as well.

I wish you the best.

No attorney-client relationship is created by responding to any question on Avvo. Further, nothing contained in any response may be relied upon as legal advice.


Sometimes, yes. It may be a way of encouraging your cooperation. In dealing with a federal investigation or prosecution it is imperative to have an attorney, and one familiar with the world of federal criminal court.


Yes. In some circumstances, a federal prosecutor can offer a plea before grand jury indictment. This typically comes it the form of a waiver of grand jury and agreement to plead guilty to an information (a charge filed by the prosecutor without a grand jury's vote). There are many advantages to this practice as it may lesson the severity of your sentence or the reduce the charge you ultimately are convicted of.


In cases where the target of an investigation's attorney has been in contact with the Government, the Assistant United States Attorney who prosecutes the case often attempts to resolve the matter before an indictment is returned by presenting a plea offer. Of course, there are many cases in which this does not happen, for many different reasons. There must be an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the Government's case before this decision can be made intelligently.

Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq.

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