Asked in Criminal Law and Wrongful Death for Georgia

Q: What is a blind plea?

Indictment reduced from felony murder to involuntary manslaughter.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Glenn T. Stern
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: A blind plea is a non-negotiated plea. The defendant and the state do not agree on what the sentence should be. On a blind plea, the prosecution will argue what the defendant should be sentenced to, and then the defense argues for what they believe the sentence should be. After, the judge will make a decision impose sentence. On a blind plea, the defense is giving The judge complete authority over the sentence. The judge could follow the state's recommendation, or follow the recommendation of the defense, or impose a sentence that is entirely different than what both sides has propositioned. It's a gamble.

Conversely, with a negotiated plea, both sides agree on a recommendation for sentencing. You going to negotiated plea, if the judge doesn't want to accept what was agreed to, both sides can go back and have further discussions to come up with something more acceptable to the court. On a blind plea, the defendant is bound by whatever the judge decides the sentence should be.

Why would one choose a blind plea? If a defendant believes that the court will give a lower sentence than what was recommended by the state, it may be a risk worth taking.

An experienced attorney would be able to evaluate the situation by relying upon their experience with the specific judge or the specific prosecutor, developing strategies and assessing the risk and then lastly making a recommendation to their client.

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