I was charged with a crime in federal court in Wilmington, North Carolina. Should I plead guilty or not guilty?

After your attorney has performed an evidentiary review, a suppression analysis and a guideline analysis you and your attorney will discuss your options.  Your attorney will use the information collected in the evidentiary review and suppression analysis to negotiate the best possible plea arrangement.  These negotiations can be very important to the outcome of your case.  You will have the option of (1) accepting the negotiated plea agreement and pleading “guilty”, (2) pleading “guilty” without a plea agreement or (3) pleading “not guilty” and proceeding to trial.

You will see, the people, the process and the penalties are much different in federal court than they are in state court.  It is important that your lawyer have experience trying cases in federal court.  Trial experience will be critical to maximizing the probabiltiy of success if you go to trial.  It will also be vital to plea negotiations if you enter a guilty plea. 

Some negotiated plea agreements contain factual or legal stipulations.  These stipulations typically are intended to add predictability to the sentencing process by establishing certain sentencing guidelines.  For example, a plea agreement might contain a weight stipulation in a drug case or a loss amount stipulation in a financial case.  It is important to know that these stipulations are not binding on the court.  The court will remain free to make an independent guideline analysis.  Still, these stipulations can still be valuable under specific circumstances and should be discussed with your lawyer prior to your arraignment.

Your decision on whether to plead guilty or not guilty is the most important decision you make.  You and your lawyer should have discussed these issues thoroughly.  If you are facing a federal criminal prosecution, you may not be happy with the choices that are available to you.  However, you should be able to make your decision with confidence.  You should not make your decision because your lawyer told you what to do.  You should choose a course of action because he or she has helped you to understand the issues and because you believe that the decision you are making is best for you and for your family.

I would not select my federal criminal defense lawyer because you heard he did a great job in one case.  I would not hire a federal criminal lawyer because have a family friend who knows someone in Wilmington, Charlotte or Raleigh.  I would not choose my federal criminal defense attorney because he help a friend with a DWI. 

In a federal criminal case, the stakes are very high.  I frequently see people make mistakes in federal court that cost them years in federal prison.  It is imperative that you research your North Carolina federal criminal defense attorney carefully.

North Carolina Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Wilmington, Raleigh, Greenville, New Bern, Charlotte, Wintson Salem, Greensboro NC

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.