When an individual accused of white-collar crime in New York enters into a plea bargain arrangement — saving the court system the time and cost of a trial — there may be a greater chance for a judge to demonstrate a certain degree of leniency regarding the sentence handed down. It may also work in a defendant’s favor when a judge believes that an individual shows genuine remorse over his or her actions. A defendant may also convince a judge that the alleged illegal actions were a last-resort effort to keep a hard-earned business afloat. 

Plea arrangements may prove advantageous to white-collar defendants. A better working relationship may develop between the defense and prosecution teams and help foster a win-win situation rather than progress to what could ultimately become a zero-sum game in front of a jury. As noted by Forbes, more than 90% of federal defendants typically enter into a plea arrangement. 

Federal sentencing guidelines and a judge’s decision 

Generally, federal judges follow a set of proposals created by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Some judges have the authority to use their own discretion when determining how a punishment fits the offense. 

Sentences may include incarceration, probation and paying restitution to individuals harmed by the defendant’s actions; the length of prison time may serve as the determining factor for many defendants deciding their plea. 

White-collar offenses and the issue of ambiguity 

White-collar charges such as wire and mail fraud, insider trading and embezzlement typically revolve around some manner of a deceptive component. The offenses may be innately ambiguous and subject to interpretation. Both the defense team and the prosecution may need to rely upon sophisticated investigative and research tools to unravel the true nature of what actually occurred. 

All these white-collar factors may lead to a tough decision regarding whether to enter into a plea bargain arrangement. A white-collar defendant may wish to give careful consideration to the options before coming to a plea decision.