Plea Negotiations and the Judge
Any time a criminal defendant enters into a plea of any nature, he is opening himself up to the whims of the judge to decide how he should be sentenced. The judge has ultimate authority and all the discretion in the world when it comes to sentencing in Utah. In some types of cases the judge is limited by statutes and in other cases the judge has to consider any victims’ opinions (but does not have to abide by them).
Every criminal defendant in Utah must keep this in mind. Just because his attorney and the prosecutor have reached a deal does not mean the judge has to follow it. For example, often times as defense lawyers we are able to work out great plea deals for our clients that don’t include any jail time, but it has happened that in spite of our excellent deal, the judge imposes a jail sentence anyway.
Make Sure You Understand the Judge’s Role in Your Case
We remind any of our clients who want to accept a deal that they still may be penalized through jail time, fines, or anything else the judge can think of. It’s unfortunate that so much power is give to one person, but that is how it works. Some judges are great and others are malicious, so before you consider taking any deal, make sure you understand the potential that your deal may be interrupted by the court.
In fact, when a judge takes a plea from a criminal defendant he always asks the defendant if he understands that the judge does not have to abide by the parties’ agreement and can impose any kind of sentence that he wants. The defendant always says that he understands but remarkably still acts surprised when the judge imposes some sentence other than the one agreed to with the prosecutor. Don’t be surprised. Talk to us for more information and Get Protected!