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Can the judge refuse a plea deal?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2024 | Criminal Defense

The majority of criminal charges never go to trial due to plea bargaining. A plea bargain is an arrangement where the defendant pleads guilty to the original charge or a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence. Plea bargaining can offer several benefits to both parties. 

However, it’s important to understand that even if you reach a favorable plea deal, the judge has the final word. Sometimes, the judge might reject a plea deal. This can happen when the judge thinks the deal does not serve the best interest of justice.

If the judge believes the sentence is too lenient

When a crime is committed, it is in the interest of justice that the perpetrator is made to answer for their action.  If a plea bargain appears to undermine the interest of justice,  the judge will likely refuse it. For instance, if the judge feels the deal the prosecution is offering is too lenient for the crime committed or the criminal history of the person who is taking the deal.

If the judge thinks that allowing the deal would do a disservice to the defendant

If the judge believes the prosecution case would collapse if it went to court, they may step in to prevent the defendant from accepting it and receiving a sentence they could almost certainly avoid by holding out and persisting in stating their innocence.

Understanding how plea bargains work can help you negotiate and reach a deal that you, the prosecution and the court all accept. If, of course, that is what you wish to do after exploring all other defense options.