Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

Why striking a plea deal for federal charges is tough in Texas

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Federal Crimes

Facing federal charges in the Lone Star State? While plea bargains are a common way to resolve many criminal cases, securing one in the federal system can be more challenging than in state courts.

Below are four reasons not to pin all your hopes on a plea deal – especially without legal counsel – when facing federal charges.

Prosecutors have limited leverage

The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines provide only a narrow range for negotiations based on the offense and the defendant’s criminal history. It can often tie the hands of prosecutors. They may want to bargain but have little to offer defendants.

Mandatory minimums pose additional limits

Certain federal crimes, especially drug offenses, come with mandatory minimum sentences. These sentences leave prosecutors little room to negotiate, making plea bargains for these charges less attractive to defendants.

The judge must accept the bargain

Even if the prosecutor and defendant agree on a deal, it still requires a judge’s stamp of approval. Some Texas federal judges are known for their independent sentencing decisions and may reject bargains they feel do not reflect the seriousness of the crime.

High conviction rates

Federal prosecutors in Texas boast a high conviction rate, making them confident about their ability to secure convictions. They may opt for the courtroom over the negotiation table, making plea deals less frequent and more challenging to obtain.

What this means for you

You may have fewer defense options in a federal case than in a state trial. That means every decision you make is nothing less than critical. Guidance from a skilled federal defense representative can help to ensure all your choices serve your best interests.