What Is an Open Plea?

An open plea leaves the defendant's sentence in the hands of the court—with no agreement from the prosecutor.

By , Attorney
Defend your rights. We've helped 95 clients find attorneys today.

There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please add a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please add a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Description is required
By clicking "Find a Lawyer", you agree to the Martindale-Nolo Texting Terms. Martindale-Nolo and up to 5 participating attorneys may contact you on the number you provided for marketing purposes, discuss available services, etc. Messages may be sent using pre-recorded messages, auto-dialer or other automated technology. You are not required to provide consent as a condition of service. Attorneys have the option, but are not required, to send text messages to you. You will receive up to 2 messages per week from Martindale-Nolo. Frequency from attorney may vary. Message and data rates may apply. Your number will be held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

You should not send any sensitive or confidential information through this site. Any information sent through this site does not create an attorney-client relationship and may not be treated as privileged or confidential. The lawyer or law firm you are contacting is not required to, and may choose not to, accept you as a client. The Internet is not necessarily secure and emails sent through this site could be intercepted or read by third parties.

In many cases, the defendant pleads guilty or no contest in return for the prosecution's agreement that it will recommend a certain sentence. (See What are the different kinds of plea bargaining?) But with an "open" plea, the defendant pleads guilty without any sentencing assurances.

What Is an Open Plea?

In many places, "open plea" refers to the defendant pleading without any promise from the prosecution as to what sentence it will recommend. Defendants sometimes reject offers and choose open pleas in the hope that they'll receive a better sentence than they would under the prosecution's proposal.

Another, potentially less risky kind of open plea can arise pursuant to an agreement—where, for example, the parties agree that the prosecution will drop one or more charges, that the defendant will plead to the remaining charge(s), and that the prosecution won't make any sentencing recommendation.

Talk to an Attorney

If you want to know about open pleas in your jurisdiction—and want to know whether entering one is a good idea given your circumstances—it's imperative that you talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with experience in your area should be well suited to explain the law and give you advice. That lawyer may also have, or be able to get, an idea of what kind of sentence the judge would choose if faced with an open plea.

DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS
Talk to a Defense attorney
We've helped 95 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please add a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please add a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Description is required
By clicking "Find a Lawyer", you agree to the Martindale-Nolo Texting Terms. Martindale-Nolo and up to 5 participating attorneys may contact you on the number you provided for marketing purposes, discuss available services, etc. Messages may be sent using pre-recorded messages, auto-dialer or other automated technology. You are not required to provide consent as a condition of service. Attorneys have the option, but are not required, to send text messages to you. You will receive up to 2 messages per week from Martindale-Nolo. Frequency from attorney may vary. Message and data rates may apply. Your number will be held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

You should not send any sensitive or confidential information through this site. Any information sent through this site does not create an attorney-client relationship and may not be treated as privileged or confidential. The lawyer or law firm you are contacting is not required to, and may choose not to, accept you as a client. The Internet is not necessarily secure and emails sent through this site could be intercepted or read by third parties.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you