Plea Agreements

While every person charged with a crime wants to go home and move on with their lives, that is not always the case. A mistake was made and that is it. Unfortunately, the prosecution is going to prosecute the case hard because someone was the victim in the crime.

The good news is that the plea agreement exists. There is a great deal of risk involved in a plea agreement. This is especially true since the defense does not possess the witness statements, agent reports, and other pieces of evidence used in the discovery process. When a plea agreement is on the table, the prosecution will state that they want the defendant to waive their right to appeal the conviction. The prosecution will also want the defendant to admit to any conduct outside of the crime charged that could be used to increase their sentence. Ultimately, the right to vie for a lower sentence is waived. However, the sentence can be lower than if convicted by a jury in a trial.

But even when the sentence may be not as severe, it can be better to simply plead guilty without reaching an agreement with the prosecution. Your Arizona criminal defense lawyer will advise you as to which may be the best move in your case. While the prosecution can argue that the highest penalties are necessary, the defense can argue for a lower sentence.

Nonetheless, there are times when the plea agreement is necessary. For instance, a person charged with a white collar crime after being charged with one before risks the statutory mandatory minimum being doubled. A plea agreement may be the only way to avoid this. If this must be done, it is best for the attorney to seek the sentence reduction and this can lead to a meeting that is referred to as a “proffer.”


To proffer means that your Phoenix white collar crimes lawyer will present evidence that supports their argument. However, the burden of proof does lie on the shoulders of the prosecution. This means that they must proffer sufficient evidence, but your attorney can also produce evidence that shows what really happened when the crime occurred. Perhaps that evidence is in the form of a witness or is a document.

If one side is denied the right to enter new evidence because that evidence would be merely hearsay, inflammatory, or its authenticity is questioned, a proffer must be made as to what would have been shown by that evidence in order to preserve the possibility of appeal.

Nonetheless, a good attorney is one that obtains a letter that ensures that statements made by the defendant during the proffer are not used against them in their trial or sentencing. This does not stop the prosecution from producing new information if the defendant is contradicted by witnesses or their own defense while at trial. However, it is during this process that the defendant is able to discuss what they do know about the crime and this could include discussion of other crimes. If the information proves to be valuable to the prosecution, then the sentence may be reduced. If a defendant has no valuable information to give, then a proffer should not take place.


When a person is accused of a crime, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines have seriously affected how those that are convicted are sentenced. These guidelines were created and passed by Congress in 1987. President Reagan then signed them into law.

What this means is that Federal Judges use these guidelines when issuing sentences in criminal cases. The rules are rather numerous and the prison sentence then falls into this mathematical grid. The range on this grid depends upon the different charges that ewe filed and the person’s past criminal history. This then results in a point score that determines the range of sentencing.

A sentencing table can determine that range. The sentencing table is the grid that judges used. Across the top is a Criminal History Category, which determines a person’s Criminal History Points. Along the left side is the offense level, which is divided into zones A, B, C, and D.

Because the Sentencing Commission stated that it is very difficult to set a single set of guidelines that define the very large range of human behavior, judges were allowed to consider “downward departures,” which means the court can impose a sentence that falls below the guidelines.

This downward departure may be necessary if it is found that the behavior of the defendant is considered as a single criminal occurrence that is minus any significant amount of planning or a criminal act that lasted for a short duration. Usually, these individuals are otherwise law abiding citizens. Even an excellent employment history can be considered when opting for a downward departure.


Another option is to cooperate. Your Phoenix criminal defense attorney may tell you that it is best if you cooperate in your case in order to secure a lower sentence. Because of downward departure, pleading out, and plea agreements, there are a number of ways to reduce sentences and your attorney will determine which of those are best for you. However, it also depends upon the individual judge. If a judge feels that you have cooperated well and you have a clean past or there is another circumstance that warrants a reduced sentence, then you may receive it.

Here is an example of how cooperation works: You may be facing 10 years in prison, but cooperating with the prosecutor in a way that the United States Attorney benefited can result in the prosecution requesting a reduced sentence for you. The U.S. attorney can file a 5k1.1 as a result of this cooperation and it is that document that tells the judge that they should depart from sentencing guidelines. This can result in a major victory for you in regards to how much time you must serve and how soon you can get on with your life.

Contact An Arizona White Collar Crimes Attorney

Even if you are guilty in your case, there are many options available to you. Myles A. Schneider will investigate the criminal charges against you, the crime that led to the charges, and will tell you what you can do so that you can reduce your charges. You do not have to worry about standing alone in your case when you have an advocate who will aggressively fight for your freedom. Call 602-926-7373 to schedule a free consultation.