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What’s the federal government’s conviction rate?

Any financial-related federal offense is referred to as a white collar crime. U.S. Attorneys are very aggressive in their prosecution of anyone who commits this type of fraudulent offense. If you’re facing such charges and currently weighing your options, then you may benefit from learning more about the federal government’s conviction rate.

You should know that you’re looking at an extremely uphill battle if you’re facing federal criminal charges. The likelihood of a favorable outcome is very small.

The Pew Research Center funded a study into federal conviction rates last year. Its researchers discovered that only 2% of federal cases ever make it to trial. They also determined that at least 90% of federal defendants end up pleading guilty. Only 8% of those cases that are filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office end up being dismissed.

All but .04% of the cases that the federal government files end up in a conviction. This means only 320 of the 79,704 defendants that were charged in 2018 ended up being acquitted of their charges.

Only 1% of the defendants that did allow their case to proceed to trial in 2018 had been charged with immigration offenses. Only 2% of those defendants that were facing drug charges decided to take their chances in court. Those individuals charged with property-related offenses opted for their day in court only 4% of the time. Defendants charged with violent crimes were perhaps the most likely to take their cases to trial at a rate of 7%.

The number of federal defendants that have decided to take their case to trial has dropped by 60% over the last two decades. There are now only about 1,879 criminal cases heard in federal court each year. Guilty pleas now hover around 90%.

There’s a stark difference in the conviction rate if a defendant chooses a bench trial as opposed to a jury one. The acquittal rate for the former is 38% whereas it’s 14% for the latter.

The odds are stacked against you if you’re facing federal criminal charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office here in Tulare brings their seemingly endless investigatory and financial resources to the table when they choose to charge you with a criminal offense. This is why you need to have a strong attorney advocating for you when you’re facing such serious charges here in California.

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.