The Unusual Pleas in DC  Superior Court

 The Unusual Pleas in DC  Superior Court

So regardless of what you seen or heard (Law & Order) – Most criminal cases in the United States end in a plea agreement.    That’s not to say cases don’t go to trial.   In fact,  we have done more than 3000 trial in the course of 20 years of practice.  However, don’t be fooled by an attorney that says that he tries all his cases.    That would be nonsensical.

Vast Majority of the Cases with Plea Agreements

Most cases usually require the defendant to plea to a charge and the prosecutor will dismiss other counts and will agree to allocute (ask the Judge for a particular sentence) .   The Judge is not bound by the agreement.   Each side gets to ask the Judge for a particular sentence.  The Judge in the district of Columbia Superior Court will then decide what the appropriate sentence is based at the sentencing hearing.

Sentencing hearing

The sentencing hearing after a guilty plea can be just as important as the trial.  The Judge may hear testimony whether through orally or through written correspondence making a request for a particular sentence.  If there is a victim involved (for example assault) that person will be able to tell the Court what they believe the person should be sentenced to based on how the crime made them feel.    The Judge will then sentence the person after listening to the prosecutor, the defense lawyer and the defendant.

Special Plea Agreements

In some cases, the parties negotiate what is referred to as a DC Superior Court Criminal Rule 11(e) (1)(C) plea.  Under this type of plea agreement the parties agree to present this plea agreement to the Court for approval.  If the Court accepts the plea agreement and the specific sentence agreed upon by the parties, then the Court will embody in the judgment and sentence the defendant to the time agreed to by the parties.     If the Court accepts the plea but then agrees that the sentence is not appropriate – the defendant may withdraw his plea if the Court does not adopt the parties agreement.   If the defendant still wants the Court to accept the plea – he may be sentenced to more or less than the initial agreement.    Rule 11 (e) (1) pleas are usually reserved for higher end felony cases (ie Murder, Assault with intent to kill, etc)

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