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Does The Judge Have To Accept A Plea Bargain?

  • By: Patrick Long
  • Published: January 14, 2021

A: No, but they almost always accept the plea, and usually accept an agreed upon sentence, as long as It meets the minimum legal requirements a plea is supposed to meet, such as the defendant having mental competence to make a plea bargain and understanding what they are pleading to. Some courts have some limits on what judges can do though. In Massachusetts district courts and Boston Municipal Court, you decide what the maximum sentence you will agree to is. Then the judge can either accept your plea, or reject it and tell you what sentence they would impose and give you an opportunity to decide whether to take that sentence or go to trial. In superior court, the judge can go higher than the sentence you propose without giving you an opportunity to reconsider, but must give you the opportunity to reconsider if they are going to give you a worse sentence than the prosecution proposes. In federal court they do not have these restrictions, but you can plead guilty and still reserve your right to appeal the sentence if you believe it is unfair.

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