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A plea bargain may be presented to resolve most criminal cases, but not always. With a plea bargain, the defendant has agreed to some type of guilty plea in exchange for a concession from the prosecutors when it comes to formal sentencing. In most cases, courts will encourage plea deals to avoid backlogs or prolonged trials. However, while plea deals are quite common in court, judges have the power to reject them. 

We’ll be going over the information required to better understand plea deals and why judges may decide to reject them:

How Do Judges Evaluate Plea Deals?

Not that long ago, the practice of plea bargaining was frowned upon, but over the years, it has become a common aspect of court. To accept or reject a plea, the judge must be aware of all the terms revolving around the deal. After the judge has reviewed the deal, they can make their decision. However, there are specific things that judges will take into consideration when determining whether they accept or reject the plea.

The Crime

Whether or not a judge will accept or reject a plea deal can be determined by the type of crime that was committed. The judge will review the nature of the crime and ensure that the punishment is appropriate for the charge or charges. 

For example, if this was the defendant’s first offence and the charge is a domestic disturbance or drunken disorderly conduct, the judge may decide that community service or counselling may be a better fit. However, if this is the defendant’s fourth or fifth offence and the charge is severe, the judge may rule that the punishment isn’t strong enough. The benefit of a plea deal is that the defendant may avoid more serious charges and avoid the uncertainty of a trial. 

Criminal Record

As mentioned, judges may look at prior offences on the defendant’s criminal record when evaluating a plea bargain. The judge will most likely accept the plea if it’s the defendant’s first charge. In these situations, the judge may see that the defendant had made a mistake and that rehabilitation is what they truly need. Similarly, if the defendant has a long history of criminal activity, the judge will be less likely to accept the plea. Repeated felonies show the judge that an individual has trouble following the law.

The Victim 

While it isn’t required by law, a judge may take into consideration whether the plea deal is in the best interest of the victim. The victim may not agree with certain terms regarding the plea deal if they feel that it will negatively impact themselves or their family. In rare cases, they might express that they feel the charges are too severe. A judge is allowed to consider the victim’s thoughts on the matter when concluding. 

The Community

A judge can reject a plea bargain if they feel it’s beneficial to the community at large. For example, if the defendant has a history of dangerous and violent behaviour, the judge may not think the plea is suitable. At the end of the day, the judge will want to make sure that the community won’t be in danger if the plea is accepted.


Another instance in which a judge may reject a plea deal is if the defendant violates the terms that have been agreed upon. This can happen after the judge has accepted the deal, as it was created with the agreement that the defendant would follow specific rules put in place. 

When you’re dealing with criminal charges, you’ll want a dependable and knowledgeable Winnipeg criminal lawyer at your side. Your lawyer will be able to review and inform you about plea deals or any other legal advice you may require. For any legal representation, call us today.