Blind Plea

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What is a Blind Plea?

A blind plea is a guilty plea without a set sentence. A blind plea is different from a standard plea bargain. In standard plea bargains, the defense attorney and the prosecuting attorney agree on a guilty plea for the accused, and, in exchange, the prosecuting attorney recommends a lighter sentence. The lighter sentence is typically an amount of time that both attorneys and the accused have agreed to.

A blind plea is accompanied by no such agreement, leaving it up to the judge to sentence the defendant as they see fit within the bounds of the law. According to the type of crime the defendant is charged with, the judge still follows sentencing guidelines that give minimum and maximum penalties.

How Does Entering a Blind Plea Differ from Plea Bargaining?

A blind plea is very risky. It involves the defendant throwing themselves at the mercy of the court. In most plea bargains, the prosecution agrees to recommend a reduced sentence which the judge usually follows. The judge, not the prosecutor, has the final say over sentencing.

However, suppose the judge does not follow the prosecution’s recommendation and imposes a tougher sentence. In that case, the defendant can change their plea to “not guilty” and proceed to trial on the original charges. A blind plea does not give the defendant this option. The defendant is stuck with whatever sentence the judge might impose within the bounds of the law.

What Are Some Practical Consequences of Entering a Blind Plea?

A criminal defendant must understand that a blind plea will cancel all defenses effectively. A defendant wouldn’t avoid conviction for a serious crime by making a blind plea to a lesser included offense. In place of a blind plea, a defendant may consider entering a no-contest plea. Unlike a blind plea, a no-contest plea preserves defenses and allows plea bargaining for a criminal defendant.

A no-contest plea allows the defendant to avoid civil liability for their crime. You can read more about no contest pleas, other types of pleas, and how they work here: Types of Criminal Pleas.

Why Would Anyone Seek a Blind Plea?

There are reasons why a defendant might take a blind plea bargain. For example, if the judge has a record of going easy on people who plead guilty, or if the prosecution has a very good case but refuses to cut a deal, then a blind plea might be a risk worth taking.

A defendant may take a blind plea when there is no lesser included offense for a plea bargain or when the prosecution imposes a very unfavorable plea bargain. A lenient judge might hand down a lighter sentence if a blind plea is paired with clear signs of regret, remorse, and other actions.

Some individuals might prefer taking a chance with the judge and not trusting the prosecution. Individuals with a long criminal history and extensive experience with the prosecution might be hesitant to trust them. However, every defendant should trust their attorney, whether a criminal defense lawyer or a public defender.

If you go to a bench trial or jury trial, the evidence is presented, and the state must either meet their burden of proof or acquit you. There is no middle ground. There is a lot of risk in going before a jury because no one knows how a jury will rule. However, if you face a prosecutor you don’t feel will give you a fair recommendation, a blind plea may be the best option for you.

If your lawyer advises you to take a plea deal or to plead no contest, strongly consider following their advice if they do not think it’s worth the risk to take a blind plea.

How Do I Know If a Blind Plea is Right for Me?

Due to the nature of blind pleas, they are typically not recommended. Most legal professionals do not recommend going into something without a complete understanding of the potential outcomes.

If the plea bargain offered by the prosecutor is not a beneficial deal, but you also feel compelled to plead guilty, then a blind plea might seem like your only option. However, instead, consider pleading “no contest,” as explained above. It has benefits, unlike a blind plea.

A blind plea is risky in most cases because the sentence or punishment is entirely in the judge’s discretion. There may be little or no indication of how they will rule. However, there are instances where a blind plea is appropriate.

If a case is charged as a misdemeanor, a blind plea may be in a client’s best interest to prevent the prosecutor from upgrading the charges to a felony. For example, if you are charged with a misdemeanor battery and believe the case may be upgraded to a felony aggravated battery, a blind plea in misdemeanor court may help you avoid a harsher penalty. The same principle applies to DUI and drug cases.

It is hard to say when a lawyer will recommend their client to submit a blind plea. It is also hard to say when a blind plea is beneficial to a client. Consider all of the above options before you file a blind plea for your best interest.

How is a Blind Plea Different From a Negotiated Plea?

A negotiated plea is one in which you have reached an agreement with the District Attorney and know what they will recommend to the judge. You have accepted the District Attorney’s recommendation in a negotiated plea and told the Court that you agree with the sentence. The judge does not have to accept a negotiated plea.

However, it is rare for a judge to reject a negotiated plea. On the rare occasions that plea deals are rejected, it is usually in highly publicized or egregious cases like child molestation. If the Court rejects a negotiated plea, they will almost always allow you to withdraw your plea and go to trial.

Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Sometimes, a blind plea is your best option. Blind pleas are risky and depend on what the judge will do. However, if you’re dealing with a difficult prosecutor or have a case that may be prejudicial in front of a jury, a blind plea may be the best option. An experienced attorney will help guide you through the process.

In most other cases, it is probably best to seek a favorable plea bargain or to plead “not guilty” and take your chances at trial. Your criminal defense attorney is the person to ask for advice in this situation and is in the best position to decide which course of action to recommend.

Be careful about making a blind plea or engaging in plea bargaining without understanding clearly the consequences of entering different types of pleas. It can stop you from appealing the decision, and if convicted, you will have a criminal record.

Consider using LegalMatch’s services today if you consider using a blind plea. Our database of experienced attorneys can help guide you through the complicated process of pleading. If you have a case that may go to trial, you must hire an attorney to represent your interests best. There is no fee to schedule a consultation.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer