How Does Cooperating In A Federal Criminal Case Work?

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Matt Kaiser, a Washington DC federal criminal defense attorney at The Kaiser Law Firm PLLC (http://www.tklf.com), describes how cooperating with the federal government - to provide evidence that a federal prosecutor can use to go after someone else - works.

Cooperation is not as straightforward as many people think it is. In this video, criminal defense attorney Matt Kaiser explains some of the misconceptions about federal cooperation. See more +

Matt Kaiser, a Washington DC federal criminal defense attorney at The Kaiser Law Firm PLLC (http://www.tklf.com), describes how cooperating with the federal government - to provide evidence that a federal prosecutor can use to go after someone else - works.

Cooperation is not as straightforward as many people think it is. In this video, criminal defense attorney Matt Kaiser explains some of the misconceptions about federal cooperation.

If you'd like more information for people facing federal criminal charges, under investigation for a federal crime, or trying to appeal a criminal conviction in federal court, please visit our webpage at:

http://www.thekaiserlawfirm.com

If you'd like more information, you can read our blog - which describes every published opinion in a federal criminal appeal where the defendant wins - you can read it here:

http://www.federalcriminalappealsblog.com

Video Transcript:

Sometimes when someone is accused of a federal crime what they want to do is they want to try to get their time down by cooperating, by helping the Government. There are a lot of misconceptions about how cooperation in federal cases works. Cooperation can be a way for some people who are willing to accept its risks and accept the danger of pointing the Government out to someone else to reduce their time. But it's not necessarily a get out of jail free card and it's not an easy thing to do.

First, what has to happen in every judicial district I have worked in is you have to agree to plead guilty first. You can’t be fighting with the government about what happened in your case and at the same time trying to work with the government to help them make somebody else’s case. If you are going to try to get the benefit of cooperation you are going to have to have a guilty plea first.

Second, you should know the cooperation is not necessarily to get out of jail free card. In some parts of the country if you cooperate and you help them catch someone else and that someone else goes to prison, you can get a significant sentencing reduction. Sometimes you can get a sentencing reduction significant enough that you don’t actually go to prison yourself. Other parts of the country if you go in and you work with the agents and you cooperate you can get a small sentencing reduction but you are almost never going to be able to eliminate prison time entirely. It really depends office to office and district to district how different US attorney’s offices were handling this across the country. There is really no uniform policy on cooperation.

The next thing you need to realize is that for cooperation there is no A for effort in many places. If you go in and you work hard, but you still aren’t able to give them evidence that they can use to catch someone, you won't get cooperation credit. If you don’t get that cooperation credit you will have already plead guilty and be locked into a guilty plea.

Cooperation for some people can make sense, it can be a good way to reduce their prison time. But for some people it doesn’t make sense. If you are not willing to go all in and tell the whole truth to the government about everything you know, about anybody who has committed a crime, it can be a very, very bad experience indeed. See less -

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Topics:  Evidence, Federal Prosecutors, Pleas, Sentencing

Published In: Criminal Law Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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