Could Cooperating With the Federal Government Really Help Your Case?

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Accused of a federal crime? If there is a larger piece to this crime that you have information about, you may be able to use this as leverage for a reduced sentence. However, there is more to consider than you may think when it comes to cooperating with police. For example, do you know what a proffer is?  This is just one of the many important elements to consider when you are deciding if you should cooperate or not. By the way, a proffer is simply the legal term in this situation for the offer by the defendant to cooperate.

Much of the time, simply cooperating makes good sense, but it is in your best interest to be aware of what risks you are taking when you do. The truth is that there actually is no general procedure that is followed everywhere in the country. There are some things that are common occurrences and there are some very desirable possibilities, but there are also no guarantees. It is absolutely in your best interest to have a criminal lawyer on your side as you move forward.  Click here to find a qualified lawyer in your area.

Things You Should Know About Being a Government Cooperator

  • You will almost certainly have to plead guilty for the crime you are accused of
  • A proffer agreement does not provide full protection, although it does provide some. It typically waives client protections that fall under Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 410, which is about the plea and plea-related statements. Statements that you share can be used against you. Never offer or answer questions regarding anything that doesn’t actually apply to the case, itself.
  • Simply offering a proffer agreement is a risk itself, particularly if the government does not decide to offer a cooperation agreement
  • You will typically still face jail time, but if you help them catch someone, your sentence can be significantly reduced. In fact, there are some cases where you can avoid actual incarceration, but this depends on which district office you are in.
  • Whatever you offer to the government will not help you if it doesn’t help the government to catch someone. If they don’t benefit from it, then it is possible that you will find yourself treated as though you didn’t even try to cooperate, and your guilty plea will still hold
  • If you change your mind after already agreeing to do this, you can face severe consequences
  • If you make any false statements, the consequences are particularly harsh.
  • If an attorney speaks for you, be sure that they have gotten your approval for the script that they will be using
  • There are multiple factors that will determine how everything will pan out in the end.

What to Expect

  1. A proffer starts the process (which can be made by the client or their attorney)
    *Beware that statements made during this time may be used to further the government’s investigation.
  2. The government will offer a cooperation agreement;
    Or, an NPA (Non-Prosecution Agreement) for a particular agency, division, or the US
    attorney’s office
    Or, a DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement) which is where charges will still be filed,

but they will be dismissed after a certain period if the cooperator complies with the agreement.

  1. You will be expected to testify against others in trial
  2. You will spend hours with the government preparing for trial
  3. The government will file a substantial assistance letter
  4. The Sentence Hearing will include how the cooperative agreement went
  5. Your sentence can still be reduced after sentencing under Rule 35, but this can take over a year.  

 

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