In many criminal cases, especially in federal white collar prosecutions, the defense is "I didn't know what those other people were doing." This defense is in line with a basic principle of our criminal justice system -- that people are only responsible for their own actions. However, there are times when it simply doesn't work.
n almost any criminal case, the defendant will be faced with a choice -- (1) go to trial and face severe consequences if they lose or (2) plead guilty in exchange for lighter consequences. Depending on the nature of the charges, the difference could be years in prison versus probation or a career-ruining criminal conviction versus the equivalent of a speeding ticket. Throughout the entire case, the prosecutor will be there reminding the defense attorney, and ultimately the defendant, of what's at stake.