When someone is trying to put you behind bars, you may feel inclined to give them the cold shoulder (or worse). But, under the right circumstances, it can actually be worthwhile to cooperate with prosecutors.
This, however, comes with an important word of caution: You must remember that prosecutors get paid to put people behind bars, and when they seek cooperation, they usually have a very good (and self-serving) reason for doing so. As a result, before you say anything to a state or federal prosecutor, you should see an attorney for legal advice. In this article, we discuss some general pros and cons of cooperating with criminal prosecutors. If you are seeking specific recommendations for your situation, you can contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.
Cooperating with Prosecutors: Pros
Avoiding Prosecution if There Is a Flaw in the Government’s Case
Sometimes, there are clear issues that both the prosecutor and defense counsel recognize are fatal flaws in the government’s case. In this situation, if you cooperate with the prosecution, it may be possible to either avoid having charges formally filed or to have your charges dismissed early in the process. If you are uncooperative, the prosecutor may choose to “see how it goes” instead of agreeing to a quick resolution.
Convincing the Prosecutor to File Lesser Charges
Early cooperation can also lead to the prosecution filing lesser charges than originally anticipated. If you are willing to cooperate and potentially face sentencing for a lesser offense, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor that pursuing a lesser charge is their best option.
Negotiating a Favorable Plea Bargain
Even if the prosecutor won’t drop or reduce your charges, cooperating may still help you negotiate a favorable plea bargain. Many times, prosecutors will agree to a deal in order to obtain a quick guilty plea and move on to their next case.
Cooperating with Prosecutors: Cons
Helping the Prosecution’s Case Against You
By cooperating, you may end up giving the prosecutors the information they need in order to convict you. The more you talk, the more likely you are to say something that can be used against you in court.
Agreeing to Something without Understanding the Consequences
Prosecutors represent the government. While they are lawyers, they are not your lawyers. As a result, when negotiating a deal, they are not required to act with your best interests in mind. By accepting a deal, you may unknowingly accept consequences that could and should have been avoided.
Pleading Guilty when the Prosecution Can’t Prove its Case
Remember how we said that prosecutors usually have a self-serving reason for agreeing to accept cooperation from a defendant? Oftentimes, the reason is that they don’t have the evidence necessary to obtain a conviction in court. The prosecutor may offer you a “deal” in order to get you to plead guilty when you could have walked away clean if your case had gone to trial.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Our criminal defense lawyers can advise you on whether you should cooperate with the prosecutors in your case. As former prosecutors ourselves, we know their tactics, and we can help you avoid making a life-changing mistake. To schedule your free consultation, contact us now.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a national litigation and trial criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively in the area of federal law.