Teresa and Joe Giudice, stars of the reality TV show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” recently pleaded guilty to federal charges of bank, mail and wire fraud. Joe also pleaded guilty to tax fraud. If the couple had been convicted at trial, they could have each faced a lifetime behind bars. Instead, Joe faces 37 to 46 months in prison and Teresa could get 21 to 27 months.
This story is not interesting because the Giudices are celebrities. It’s interesting because their case presents two issues that relate to the importance of hiring a criminal defense attorney who has experience with federal plea negotiations.
Giudices’ Plea Agreement
Whether to plead guilty or take your chances at trial is a difficult decision, but in federal court, where the cards are usually stacked very high against the defendant, pleading guilty often makes the best sense. If you plead guilty before trial and agree to accept responsibility for the offenses, the federal prosecutor will agree to a credit or reduction in the prison sentence that ordinarily comes with a conviction at trial.
As shown by the Giudice case, the reduction can be substantial. Obtaining the most favorable plea agreement requires the negotiation skills of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney, one who is able to establish a cooperative relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the earliest stages of your case.
An important yet overlooked detail in the Giudices’ case is the fate of their four young daughters. If the husband and wife are ordered to carry out their prison sentences at the same time, they will lose custody of their children. If you and your spouse are facing a similar situation, you should retain a skilled federal criminal defense attorney who can negotiate an arrangement where one spouse stays at home to care for the children while the other spouse serves his or her sentence.
Source: CBS New York, http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/03/04/sources-real-housewives-of-new-jersey-stars-expected-to-plead-guilty-to-fraud-charges/“>’Real Housewives Of New Jersey’ Stars Plead Guilty To Fraud Charges, March 4, 2014.