At the Federal level the accused is at greater disadvantage than at the state level. It is here where the most atrocious and egregious behavior is exhibited by defense attorneys. The public defenders or CJA attorneys are appointed by the judges and are paid a fraction of what they would usually be getting in fees from clients. They are underpaid and overworked and the unsuspecting client feels full brunt of the attorney’s frustrations. These attorney’s are usually paid to do nothing. they simply collect their checks from the government and convince their clients to sign pleas that they haven’t full reviewed nor do they care to. The federal sentencing guidelines are among the harshest sentencing schemes in the world. Attorney’s for the defense and the prosecution use these guidelines as a weapon to induce fear and manipulate clients to act in a desired manner. You can expect to pay far more for a federal defense attorney than you would for a state attorney. The irony of that is at the state level a lawyer has more negotiating power. Where at the federal level the prosecutors have more leverage and power. Federal defense attorneys have very few options when it comes to seeking a lesser sentence for their clients. As previously stated the guidelines are already predetermined for all offenses. Unless the client decides to cooperate and become a government informant, there’s little that can be done to get a better sentence for the accused. federal defense attorneys-seeing that most of them used to be prosecutors- understand the importance of the barter system, what they refer to as horse trading. They’ll sacrifice one client, usually the one with the inability to pay the high fees, in order to gain a favor further down the line for a paying client. What is also a good bargaining chip for lawyers is that they will “hand over” high profile gang members or people the government views as a threat. “Handing over” a client means that the attorney puts up what looks like a legitament fight for his client, knowing that the outcome is predetermine. This client doesn’t understand that he’s nothing but a bargaining chip in this game of quid pro quo.
Federal defense attorney’s specialize in plea bargaining and not in trials. This is another factor to consider before selecting an attorney. Is this attorney a trial attorney and if so who have they defended and how many trials has he or she won? Most attorneys at the federal level refuse to go to trial. Even the great Johnny Cochran refused to take federal cases and with good reason. Lawyers understand what their clients stands to lose if they go to trial and are convicted. They use the threat of lengthy sentences like their counterparts at the US Attorney’s office to get clients to plea out, lighten their case load and secure an easy paycheck. If you’re a Federal Defense attorney your asking price just to secure a plea bargain can be as high as twenty thousand dollars or more. If you are an attorney with a good reputation you may be able to secure more than thirty paying clients within a year, not factoring the cut you get from the other attorney’s cases working at your law firm. That can mean over a million dollars a year for some attorneys just by getting clients to plea out. That’s a lot of money for doing nothing. The less scrupulous attorney’s will not tell their clients what they stand to lose if they go to trail, and will withhold information regarding pleas in order to get unsuspecting clients to go to trial. They might allude to the lengthy sentences that the clients might face and briefly go over the facts of the case, while consciously omitting that statistics are not in their client’s favor. The reason for this is that the attorney will secure much more money by going to trial. They get their clients to pay for expert witnesses, private investigators, co-counsel and an entire supporting cast for the defense. Every member of this supporting cast is a close friend of the attorney and will collude with the attorney to get as much money from the client as possible. In addition to the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars a good attorney might charge a client for a trial defense, the client will also have to foot the bill for the lawyer’s supporting cast.