Warning about Plea Bargain in Utah

A plea bargain is the most common resolutions to criminal charges and in some cases can be the best resolution. But be cautious when entering into a plea bargain in Utah with a prosecutor as there is no guarantee that what you’ve been promised is what will actually happen. Not only are judges not obligated to follow a plea agreement but prosecutors will also try to skirt around their own promises. A smart prosecutor can design a plea agreement that can appear to guarantee one thing but leave them free to argue the opposite. In a recent case, I successfully prevented a judge from unlawfully sentencing a defendant and a prosecutor from breaching his own plea agreement.

The Defendant had agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the prosecutions promise to join the defense in recommending a specific sentence to the judge. However, at the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor argued that a mandatory sentence enhancement should apply based on the defendant’s juvenile record. The prosecutor, after promising the defendant he would recommend a particular sentence, breached his own plea agreement and convinced the judge to add 10 years to the Defendant’s sentence. This was blatantly unconstitutional for several reasons. Fortunately, I was able to prove both that the prosecutor’s enhancement was unlawful and the judge’s sentence was unconstitutional. In the end, the judge was forced to drop the enhancement.

Should I Take a Plea Bargain in Utah?

Whenever you are faced with a possible plea bargain don’t take anything at face value. It takes an experienced Utah criminal attorney to spot prosecutorial loopholes that can leave you wondering. Attorney Ryan Holtan has spotted these loopholes before and stopped judges and prosecutors from exploiting them. Don’t let it happen to you. If you have any more questions about plea bargains, feel free to call me at (800) 265-2314. Thanks, Attorney Ryan Holtan.