Over the past several days, the United States Supreme Court has issued several important decisions. The media and the public are understandably lending the majority of their focus to the same-sex marriage decision released today and the healthcare decision released yesterday. However, another important decision was handed down this June. Although this decision will not affect as many Americans as the two high-profile decisions just mentioned, it will affect a smaller number of Americans in truly significant ways.
If you have been charged with criminal wrongdoing, you may have been granted the opportunity to take a plea deal. Sometimes, taking a plea deal can be extremely beneficial for criminal defendants, especially those who understand that they could face far harsher penalties if convicted at trial. However, taking a plea deal is not the best option for all criminal defendants.
Drug crimes are among the most frequently and heavily prosecuted offenses. And when it comes to heavy-handed prosecution, the federal government is the undisputed leader. The vast majority of federal drug crime cases never make it to trial, because defendants usually opt for a plea deal. Is this because federal prosecutors always have the evidence they need to convict? The answer is no, but they do have broad powers that allow them to coerce guilty pleas even from some defendants who have not committed a crime.