U.S. prosecutors are currently engaging with Boeing and the families of victims from fatal crashes as a critical deadline of July 7 approaches. By this date, the Justice Department must decide whether to bring criminal charges against the aircraft manufacturer. This information comes from two individuals familiar with the ongoing discussions and relevant documents that Reuters has seen.

Last Thursday, Justice Department officials sat down with Boeing’s legal team to review findings that suggest Boeing may have breached a 2021 agreement that previously protected it from criminal charges related to two 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019, which tragically resulted in the loss of 346 lives.

In a separate initiative, federal prosecutors have scheduled a meeting for Sunday with the families of the victims to share updates on the investigation’s progress. An email from the DOJ, also reviewed by Reuters, highlighted the urgency of the situation, mentioning a “tight timeline” faced by the officials.

During Thursday’s meeting, attorneys from Kirkland & Ellis, representing Boeing, argued before the Deputy Attorney General’s office that prosecution was unnecessary and advocated for maintaining the 2021 agreement.

Such negotiations are common as companies often seek to resolve government probes without further escalation.

The prosecutors have expressed a desire to hear from the victims’ families as they deliberate on the next steps. The meeting on Sunday will be attended by officials from the Justice Department’s criminal fraud division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas, according to the correspondence.

Both the DOJ and Boeing have chosen not to comment on the matter.

Previously, Boeing has stated that it has adhered to the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) and formally contested the DOJ’s conclusion that it violated the pact.

U.S. prosecutors have advised senior Justice Department officials that there are grounds for criminal charges against Boeing for violating the 2021 settlement, as per sources close to Reuters.

Discussions are ongoing about a potential resolution to the investigation, and it remains uncertain whether the DOJ will pursue charges.

These developments follow an incident on January 5, when a Boeing plane suffered a mid-flight panel blow-out, just two days before the expiration of the company’s DPA. This incident has brought renewed attention to safety and quality issues at Boeing.

Had it not been for these developments, Boeing might have avoided prosecution on a charge of conspiring to defraud the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) linked to the crashes of 2018 and 2019.

The original agreement required Boeing to overhaul its compliance practices and provide regular updates over three years, in addition to paying $2.5 billion to settle the investigations.

In May, the DOJ concluded that Boeing failed to adhere to this agreement, particularly in implementing a compliance and ethics program robust enough to prevent and detect violations of U.S. fraud laws, putting Boeing at risk of prosecution. This assessment was detailed in a DOJ court filing in Texas.