How often do federal criminal cases go to trial?

criminal cases can go to trial, but the frequency at which they do so varies. In the United States, the vast majority of federal criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains rather than going to trial. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2018, only about 2% of federal criminal cases went to trial.

There are several reasons why federal criminal cases often end in plea bargains rather than trials. First, the prosecution and defense may engage in negotiations to reach a plea agreement that is mutually beneficial. This can save time and resources for both parties involved, as well as reduce the burden on the court system.

Second, the potential consequences of going to trial can be significant. If a defendant is found guilty at trial, they may face harsher penalties compared to those offered in a plea bargain. By accepting a plea deal, defendants can often secure a lesser sentence or have some charges dropped.

Third, the strength of the evidence plays a crucial role in the decision to go to trial. Prosecutors may be more inclined to offer a plea deal if they believe the evidence is not strong enough to guarantee a conviction at trial. Similarly, defendants may choose to accept a plea bargain if they believe the evidence against them is overwhelming.

However, there are instances where federal criminal cases do proceed to trial. This typically occurs when the defendant and prosecution cannot reach a mutually agreeable plea deal, or when the defendant maintains their innocence and wishes to present their case before a jury.

In summary, while federal criminal cases can go to trial, the majority are resolved through plea bargains. The decision to go to trial depends on various factors, including the strength of the evidence, potential consequences, and the willingness of both parties to negotiate.