Most states have court rules and laws that govern the preparation and enforceability of a plea agreement between a criminal defendant and the State. According to case law, plea agreements play a “crucial role” in the Maryland criminal justice system. Part of the allure of a plea agreement is the level of certainty it provides to the person charged with a crime, as well as to the State. Furthermore, the use of plea agreements (rather than a trial) serves to reduce the overcrowding of courts by disposing of cases in an more efficient manner. It is important to ensure that any applicable legal rules are complied with in order to protect one’s rights at this very important stage, as well as throughout the whole criminal process. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you are encouraged to contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
The highest court in Maryland recently addressed the legality of a criminal sentence that is below the terms of the binding plea agreement. In this case, a grand jury indicted Tommy Garcia Bonilla back in 1989 on two counts of first-degree murder as well as other serious crimes. Count I and Count III represented the two separate murder charges. In 1990, Bonilla and the State entered into a binding plea agreement with the following terms. If called upon by the State, Bonilla would testify against one of his co-defendants and would plead guilty to Counts I and III. In return, the State agreed that Bonilla would receive a sentence of life imprisonment on Count III, and a consecutive life imprisonment sentence with all but 20 years suspended on Count I.