By Joseph Abrams

After their arrest and arraignment, a defendant is faced with a difficult decision. The natural inclination is to fight. Go to trial and vindicate yourself against the heinous criminal allegation you now face. However, before you step off the cliff and fall into the abyss of a trial in federal court it is essential to completely understand the entirety of the situation. The federal government wins over ninety-nine percent of the cases it files in Federal Court. This statistic unmasks the enormity of the task of winning in federal court. The notion you are innocent until proven guilty ignores this brutal fact. The prudent reality for a criminal defendant is your best option is to negotiate a plea deal with the government. In this video, Justin Paperny and Mike Berlon address the important topic of how to manage and oversee a successful plea deal negotiated with the government.
Once a decision to seek out a plea deal with the government is made the most important aspect to effectively reach the most positive result is to fully invest yourself in this practical and sensible process. The best results can be obtained by collaborating diligently with your attorney. Trusting your attorney and being openly and completely honest with your legal representative is the first step in achieving a beneficial result in the negotiation process. The attorney is your representative in this important stage of your fight. The best chance to promulgate your interests and achieve a favorable result is to ensure your representative is fully informed.
Your attorney will initially be negotiating with the federal prosecutor. However, as Mike points out in the video, the ultimate arbitrator of the plea deal is the federal judge who hears your case. This bifurcated decision process requires sophisticated maneuvering. Mike’s recommendation to alleviate this problem is an early commitment to negotiations with the federal prosecutors. He reasons the longer the delay between engaging in an ongoing and meaningful negotiation with the government, the more time and energy the prosecution invests in the preparation for trial. The natural consequence of the overt commitment to preparing for trial is a more rigid negotiating position. This combative positioning lessens the prosecution’s willingness to compromise resulting in a harsher sentencing recommendation on their part. This heightens the risk the Judge will lean toward a harsher and more stringent sentence.

Early engagement in the plea agreement process along with the defendant’s willingness to accept full responsibility for your actions is viewed positively by the prosecution. Being forthright and honest helps prepare your attorney to best represent you. Mike and Justin stress several times the necessity to convey all the facts and details of your case to your representative. Full disclosure provides your attorney with flexibility in dealing with the prosecution and getting the best deal possible for you. Justin warns the prospective defendants about how in the end the plea agreement may not fully express the totality of the defendant’s point of view. His advice is the greater your involvement and engagement with your attorney the more the plea agreement will represent your viewpoint. An open and honest discussion about every aspect and every element of your case is the best means for you to get the best possible deal.

Once you agree to your plea deal you will be required to appear before the Judge for sentencing. On the day of signing your plea agreement, you will appear in court and provide an admission of guilt. The Judge will ask you if you understand all the elements of your plea deal and the consequence of accepting responsibility and pleading guilty to the charges against you. While it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and case to case, many times the Judge goes over and parses every detail of the plea agreement. Be prepared for a protracted discussion of the plea deal. You should have a thorough knowledge of the terms of the plea deal and be prepared to discuss any element in your plea agreement.

After you sign your plea agreement, often on the same day you sign the plea agreement you will be required to report to the pretrial services and meet with the pretrial services officer. Upon reporting to pretrial services, you will be photographed, fingerprinted, and required to provide a sample of your DNA. They will gather your basic information, where you live, where you work, and the people in your life., i.e., your wife, children, significant others, etc.

Shortly after you meet with the pretrial services officer, the officer will come to visit and inspect your home. During the visit to your home, the pretrial services officer will discuss with you the terms and conditions of your pretrial probation. Your pretrial probation is the time between the guilty plea and your sentencing. If you are required to wear an ankle monitor the initial visit to your home will be the time the monitor is applied.
During your pretrial probation period, you will be required to report all your activities to the pretrial officer. This will include providing the officer with a detailed schedule of your movements and appointments. It is important to be cooperative with your pretrial services officer during the pretrial probation period. The pretrial officer is required to provide a report to the Court of your compliance with the terms and conditions of your pretrial probation. Any deviation or variance or failure to comply with the conditions of your pretrial probation could result in the termination of your probation and result in immediate incarceration. Additionally, the Judge will weigh your actions of non-compliance and it will affect the severity of your sentence.

There is a lot of complicated material in this video. Mike and Justin do an excellent job of explaining the material and they provide personal experiences to illustrate and help you understand the material. Mike and Justin supply essential tips and advice providing key information to help you make sound and positive decisions regarding your plea negotiations and during your pretrial probation period.