Federal Plea Agreements: The Engine That Drives the Prosecution of Increasingly Complex Crimes
October 1, 2003Carter K.D. Guice
There has been much controversy and criticism, from academia, the bench and the criminal defense bar, over the use of plea agreements to resolve criminal controversies. Indeed, a panel of the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Singleton held that plea agreements and subsequent motions filed by federal prosecutors on behalf of cooperating witnesses seeking a more lenient sentence rose to a level of public bribery criminally proscribed by Title 18 Section 201(c)(2) of the United States Code. While the holding in Singleton was overturned in less than six months by the Tenth Circuit sitting en banc, the entire plea bargain/agreement issue remains a hot topic in the criminal law milieu. This article will attempt to present a practical view on the crucial role plea agreements and Section 5K1.1 motions play in the investigation and prosecution of complex federal cases.