What is a Utah Criminal Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is where the prosecutor agrees to dismiss or reduce one or more charges in return for a guilty plea. Plea bargains happen in Utah juvenile courts, justice courts and district courts. Plea bargains are intertwined with sentencing agreements. Plea bargains happen in United States military tribunals and federal courts.
Example: Orem Justice Court Simple Marijuana Possession. You are charged with one count of simple marijuana possession and one count of drug paraphernalia possession. The plea bargain is that you plead guilty to simple marijuana possession and the prosecutor will dismiss the drug paraphernalia charge.
Example: Orem Justice Court Simple Marijuana Possession. You are charged with one count of simple marijuana possession and one count of drug paraphernalia possession. The prosecutor agrees to a first time offender program on the simple marijuana possession while dismissing the drug paraphernalia charge.
Example: Provo District Court. Aggravated Assault. You are charged with a felony 3 aggravated assault because you restricted someone’s airway (allegedly). The plea bargain could be reducing the felony 3 aggravated assault to “attempted” aggravated assault, a Class A Misdemeanor. This reduction to a Class A Misdemeanor could be through Utah Code 77-2-2.3, or by pleading to an attempt, or by refiling the charges as an attempt.
Who Ultimately Accepts or Rejects Utah Plea Bargains? The Judge.
The defense and prosecution can agree all they want on a plea bargain, but the judge ultimately decides to accept or reject the plea bargain. If the judge rejects the plea bargain, the parties are free to re-negotiate the plea bargain.
What Are the Chances a Judge Will Reject My Plea Bargain?
Judges nearly 99 percent of the time in Utah state courts will accept the party’s plea bargain proposals. Common areas where judge reject plea agreements is where it involves a judge’s pet peeve or particular area the judge dislikes.
Common Plea Bargain Rejected by Judges: Judges reject plea bargains if the sentencing agreements are so lenient that the crime seems to go unpunished. Judges may also reject plea bargains on particular issues they deem important. Some judges reject any dismissal of certain DUIs without some real explanation. Other judges will not accept a plea bargain involving injured children or the elderly. It is often particular to the judge.