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What Happens When In A Criminal Case...?

Kent, WA |

Regarding a Frank's...

In a felony harassment where it is agreed to be sent down to a lower court for a plea, to a gross misdemeanor, what happens when or if something goes haywire, if the lower court judge does not accept the deal or etc., does it go back to the original charge and court, really, after it has been dismissed by that Superior Court?

And what are my options if I do not like what the new judge might add??

Say things are agreed to and all parties are happy but the new lower court judge adds say mental exam, anger management etc. can I at last moment back out and go back to square one???

Attorney Answers 3


In short, the answer is no, you can't back out if the lower court judge adds conditions that are not part of the plea agreement. Once the judge accepts your guilty plea, you can't change your mind simply because the judge didn't follow the agreed recommendation. The good news is that most judges will follow agreed recoendations because they know that both sides have put time and thought into the resolution and know the facts better than the judge. You should talk to your attorney about the judge you are assigned to for the plea and see if he/she usually follows agreed recoendations or if you should consider affidaviting the judge and asking for a different one.

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Zachary Charles Wagnild

Zachary Charles Wagnild


Sorry about the auto-correct. Recoendations should be recommendations.


Different functions are done by different entities. The Prosecutor's function is adding or removing (amending) charges - hence, you see a Felony dropped down to a lower Court. Only the Prosecuting Attorney has the ability to "change" the charges.

In your scenario, the Court's function is sentencing. The Court can not change the charge, but can sentence you to anything inside of the maximums allowed. With a Gross Misdemeanor that is anywhere up to 365 days in jail. However - regarding an agreed and recommended jail term, most judges will follow a well thought out resolution. Other condtions (the anger management, assessments etc...) is where you see Judges "freestyle" a bit and this is within their ability to do so. Hopefully this helps.

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I agree with Mr. Wagnild's answer. If the judge in the lower court goes sideways on the plea deal, there will not be much you can do. That is always a risk. However, it sounds like you and your attorney have negotiated a fairly detailed arrangement in sending the case down to a lower court. Most judges will not want to throw a wrench into a complex arrangement like this. However, you should always check with your attorney about the judge who will be sentencing you in the lower court. Your attorney may have information (hopefully good information) about the judge's willingness to follow agreed plea recommendations.

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