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The role judges play in plea deals

Judges are involved with helping defendants out with plea bargains. They play a major role when a defendant pleads guilty to a crime. Here are the most common ways they deal with plea agreement matters in Albany, New York.

Evaluating if a guilty plea is constitutional

The judge in charge of your court case will hear or read your plea agreement. They will look at all the elements of it to ensure that it falls under the guidelines of the Constitution. Your judge won’t be involved in drafting the agreement, but they are responsible for rejecting or approving the plea deal.

Asking the important questions

The judge wants to ensure the defendant understands the terms of the plea deal and that they’re making an intelligent and voluntary decision to accept the agreement. To do so, they’ll have the defendant answer several questions either through an interview or with a document called a tender-of-plea. They will answer questions that demonstrate they are capable of sound decision-making and that they aren’t being coerced into accepting a criminal defense deal by their attorney or anyone else.

Standards to uphold defendants’ rights

Judges don’t just hear cases and use their judgment to create rulings. They also explain to defendants that they have certain rights and will be waiving many rights when they plead guilty. It’s important that every person standing trial for a crime understands their rights.

Even though judges have a concern with the constitutionality of plea agreements, they’re prohibited in many states from taking on a greater role in discussions and negotiations about the guilty plea. Eight states allow for judges to be involved in plea negotiations in terms of advising matters.

Judicial conferences give peace of mind, allowing for judges to help prevent defendants from agreeing to plea deals without consideration of their rights. There certainly will be further changes to how negotiations and criminal legal proceedings occur, including how judges improve fairness in pre-trial negotiations and the trial process.