Can the Judge Reject a Plea Agreement?

SQ Attorneys

The majority of criminal cases are resolved by way of a plea. In a negotiated plea agreement, a defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for concessions from prosecutors when it comes to sentencing. Courts also often encourage plea deals because they reduce backlogs, and judges typically abide by the deals. Especially, during the pandemic when there was a huge back log, plea agreements have been encouraged by the Court systems in order to move forward with many of the cases that have/had been pending for too long.

Although it is very rare, judges do have the authority to reject negotiated plea deals. While the rejection of plea deals is uncommon, judges do have broad latitude to do it if they think the terms don’t serve the interests of justice.

In May of last year, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang out of Maryland rejected a deal that would have put a man described as the world’s largest purveyor of child pornography in jail for 15 to 21 years. The judge said he was inclined to give the defendant a longer sentence. Moreover, in July of last year, U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell in Oklahoma rejected a plea deal  to reduce a first-degree murder charge to second-degree. While plea bargaining is essentially a private process, the American Bar Association has noted that victims’ rights groups are having a stronger voice in the process. Such is true in many domestic violence cases, and sex offenses in which a victim has been personally and directly harmed by the perpetrator.

Accepting a plea agreement for criminal defendants means they can avoid more serious charges, serve a lighter sentence, and avoid the hassle and uncertainty of a trial.Most importantly, they have a peace of mind as to the out come of the case and can plan their life around the projected sentence. The downside for criminal defendants is that agreeing to a plea bargain usually means they will be admitting guilt. Also, plea bargains typically require surrendering any rights to appeal.

For those reasons, it is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney before entering into any plea agreement. A skilled criminal defense attorney can best determine whether the deal is a good one or whether going to trial is the best option.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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