24 Jun 20

Non Prosecution Agreement: A Minor Role in Federal Crime

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Last Updated on: 5th August 2023, 03:51 pm

There are many options available to a Federal prosecutor when there is a criminal case heading towards trial. When a Federal investigation is underway into a specific crime, there will usually be at least one of those involved who attempts to enter into a plea deal where information is exchanged for a lighter sentence. In many larger cases where the media and public have a vested interest in the use of a non-prosecution agreement will be an option explored by both parties involved in the exchange of information.

What is a Non-Prosecution Agreement?

A non-disclosure agreement is just one of the three options that can be explored by Federal prosecutors when they are looking for assistance in bringing their case to trial. The agreement allows federal prosecutors to the chance to allow those facing prosecution with immunity from prosecution if they provide information and prove they can have good behavior in the future.

A non-prosecution agreement differs from some of the other options open to federal prosecutors, including the deferred prosecution agreement that can last for a specific amount of time. Although both these agreements can be used and have conditions they tend to be reserved for only a few individuals and companies taking part in high-profile cases.

Conditions must be met

There are very few non-disclosure agreements produced by federal prosecutors because they tend to keep them for those who are taking part in the highest-profile cases. Even when a company or individual decides to accept their role in a prosecution and work with the federal agencies to secure their non-disclosure agreement they must maintain their good behavior.

One of the most famous cases where a non-disclosure agreement was used was that of the automaker, General Motors which agreed with prosecutors in return for evidence and future good behavior. Among the reasons why a non-prosecution agreement will be put into place is the ability of the agreement to secure the good behavior of the company in the future. In the case of GM, negligence on the part of the company led to the deaths of more than 100 people worldwide. The damaging effects of the prosecution of the carmaker were offset by a non-prosecution agreement that requires the good behavior of the company over the long-term.

Is a Non-Prosecution Agreement Legal?

The legality of non-prosecution agreements was secured in the U.S. by the passage of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974. This legal act of Congress changed the way the prosecution of some cases took place with the introduction of a framework designed to aid those who assist in federal prosecutions.

Most court cases in the U.S. must make their way to a court in less than 75 days to avoid any individual being threatened with prosecution over the long-term. The Speedy Trial Act made it easy for an agreement to be made between the different people involved in a case and the federal prosecutor’s team. The non-prosecution agreement is just one of the options, along with the traditional plea deal entered into a court through a letter detailing the terms of the agreement.

Conditions Commonly in Place

Several conditions are usually put into place by prosecutors as part of the issuing of a non-prosecution agreement, including the payment of a large fine. In most cases, the federal prosecutor will work with the Securities and Exchange Commission to agree on white-collar crimes. The other requirements usually include an agreement that the statute of limitations will be waived by the defendant who will be prosecuted if they do not stick to their side of the agreement.

The Minor Role of Non-Prosecution Agreements

There are very few non-prosecution agreements available to the members of the general public with the Department of Justice generally reserving their use for white-collar, high-profile cases. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide information about the use of non-prosecution agreements that are detailed as being reserved for “important” cases. There is a lack of guidance regarding the term “important” meaning discretion should be used by federal prosecutors.