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Deal or No Deal: Why Courts Should Allow Defendants to Present Evidence That They Rejected Favorable Plea Bargains

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 48 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2011 Pages: 1293-1334
Colin Miller
Date Published
42 pages
This paper examines the basis for allowing defendants to present evidence at trial on why they rejected a favorable plea bargain.
This paper explores the inconsistency established by U.S. courts that allows prosecutors to present defendants' incriminatory statements made during plea discussions while at the same time preventing those same defendants from presenting evidence that they rejected favorable plea bargains. This inconsistency was codified by Congress in 1979 when they amended the Federal Rule of Evidence 410 and the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(e)(6) to clarify exactly what evidence relating to plea bargaining the Rules rendered inadmissible. The creation and amendment of these two Federal Rules are discussed in detail in the second section of this paper. The third section of this paper presents several opinions in which evidence of rejected plea bargains and the various reasons given by the courts for excluding them trial are examined. The fourth section of the paper discusses the Ninth Circuit Court ruling in United States vs. Mezzanatto regarding the ability of prosecutors to force defendants to waive the protections afforded by the plea bargaining rules. In the final section of the paper, the author argues that the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling in Mezzanatto indicates that defendants should be able to present evidence that they rejected favorable plea bargains.


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