Criminal Law

Plea Agreements

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§6B1.2GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

imposition of a specific sentence only if the court is satisfied either that such sentence is an appropriate sentence within the applicable guideline range or, if not, that the sentence departs from the applicable guideline range for justifiable reasons (i.e., that such departure is authorized by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(b)) and those reasons are specifically set forth in writing in the statement of reasons or the judgment and commitment order. As set forth in subsection (d) of §5K2.0 (Grounds for Departure), however, the court may not depart below the applicable guideline range merely because of the defendant’s decision to plead guilty to the offense or to enter a plea agreement with respect to the offense.

A defendant who enters a plea of guilty in a timely manner will enhance the likelihood of his receiving a reduction in offense level under §3E1.1 (Acceptance of Responsibility). Further reduction in offense level (or sentence) due to a plea agreement will tend to undermine the sentencing guidelines.

The second paragraph of subsection (a) provides that a plea agreement that includes the dismissal of a charge, or a plea agreement not to pursue a potential charge, shall not prevent the conduct underlying that charge from being considered under the provisions of §1B1.3 (Relevant Conduct) in connection with the count(s) of which the defendant is convicted. This paragraph prevents a plea agreement from restricting consideration of conduct that is within the scope of §1B1.3 (Relevant Conduct) in respect to the count(s) of which the defendant is convicted; it does not in any way expand or modify the scope of §1B1.3 (Relevant Conduct). Section 5K2.21 (Dismissed and Uncharged Conduct) addresses the use, as a basis for upward departure, of conduct underlying a charge dismissed as part of a plea agreement in the case, or underlying a potential charge not pursued in the case as part of a plea agreement.

The Commission encourages the prosecuting attorney prior to the entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to disclose to the defendant the facts and circumstances of the offense and offender characteristics, then known to the prosecuting attorney, that are relevant to the application of the sentencing guidelines. This recommendation, however, shall not be construed to confer upon the defendant any right not otherwise recognized in law.

Historical Note:: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendment 295); November 1, 1992 (see Appendix C, amendment 467); November 1, 1993 (see Appendix C, amendment 495); November 1, 2000 (see Appendix C, amendment 604); October 27, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 651).

§6B1.3. Procedure Upon Rejection of a Plea Agreement (Policy Statement)

If the court rejects a plea agreement containing provisions of the type specified in Rule 11(c)(1)(A) or (C), the court must do the following on the record and in open court (or, for good cause, in camera)—

(a) inform the parties that the court rejects the plea agreement;

(b) advise the defendant personally that the court is not required to follow the plea agreement and give the defendant an opportunity to withdraw the plea; and

(c) advise the defendant personally that if the plea is not withdrawn, the court may dispose of the case less favorably toward the defendant than the plea agreement

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