Serious Defense For Serious Charges

What is an Open Plea and Should I Take the Chance?

by | Jun 25, 2024 | Firm News

First and foremost, a criminal defendant does not have a right to receive a plea agreement.  However, having said that, most criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement.  A plea agreement is an offer from the Prosecutor to a Defendant which sets out the parameters of the guilty plea, term of a sentence whether that be to probation, work release, home detention or jail and any specific or special conditions attached to the terms such as restitution.

Most plea agreements lay out in set terms what happens when the defendant pleads guilty.  For example, if you have received a plea to Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated and this is your first offense, your plea agreement will likely require probation, attendance at a Victim Impact Panel and Random Urinalysis.

Many times, Prosecutors may offer an “Open Plea.”  Prosecutors do this for numerous reasons but one of them is that they want the Judge to decide the sentence or any conditions surrounding the sentence.  An Open Plea can be a good opportunity when a client has a lot of life circumstances that are not obvious when looking at the crime committed.  With an Open Plea, the judge is obligated to consider those circumstances in deciding a sentence.  An Open Plea can be stressful for a defendant because it does not specify what happens after the defendant pleads guilty.  With an open plea, the Judge won’t announce sentence until after a defendant has plead guilty and really after it is too late to go back.  Yet, sometimes the good outweighs the bad.

Don’t immediately reject the idea of an open plea.  If you have a story that you can tell that gives the Judge some insight into your criminal behavior, an open plea might be the only way to get your story heard.  If you look through Dorie’s reviews, you will see that she has obtained very favorable sentences for her clients.  Most often that was because of her ability to help the client tell their story.