What happens when a defendant rejects a plea deal

Imagine you’re in trouble with the law and get an offer to make things easier – but you decide to say “no.” What happens next? Here is what happens when someone accused rejects a plea deal.

when a defendant rejects a plea deal

1. Facing a Tougher Punishment

You take a risk when you say “no” to a plea deal. The punishment could be much more complicated if you’re later found guilty. It’s like refusing a good deal and gambling with the chance that things might worsen. The prosecution, on behalf of the government, can demand a harsher punishment. Moreover, the judge may go with a much heavier sentence than negotiated as part of the settlement.

2. Going to Trial

The case will proceed to the trial when you rejects a plea deal. Imagine a trial as one big court fight. For the prosecution to convince you that you committed a crime, your personal defence team aims to convince you otherwise. This is a criminal court battle; therefore, it’s advisable for you to hire an honest criminal law attorney. Trials can be long and confusing; you must know what will happen. It’s like entering a contest where the judge decides if you’re guilty based on what happens in court.

3. Possibility of Harsher Sentence

If a trial convicts the defendant, then the prosecution may claim a more strict punishment than what was proposed in the plea agreement. A plea bargain is an agreement between the accused individual and the trial. In this offer, the accused may plead guilty and get a much lighter sentence. However, if there isn’t any deal and the trial leads to a guilty verdict, then it may be possible that the prosecution will seek a harsher penalty. It is as if one says “no” to a discount and then pays the total price.

4. Judge Might Enforce Another Sentence

Who gets to decide the punishment? The judge, therefore, can sentence, and the plea deal is not binding on them. Although this was accepted by the defendant and by the prosecution, a judge can conclude: ‘I don’t think so,’ she still may enforce another sentence. The judge uses the case facts, criminal history, and sentencing guidelines. So, the judge is not just like a bystander to what both parties desired, namely the convicted and the prosecutor.

5. Judicial Rejection of Plea Agreement

However, in some cases, the judges decline a plea bargain. Why? They will only accept it if they believe the agreement is moderate or generous. Imagine entering a deal, and the boss tells you it is not good enough. This happens if the judge thinks the deal doesn’t show how severe the crime is or if it’s unfair to justice. In such cases, the judge might send the case to trial. 


Rejecting a plea bargain does not mean merely agreeing on higher penalties but also taking the risk of being judged by a judge. The option for a reduced sentence and the judge’s ability to accept or deny deals make the legal experience even more complicated. In our next exploration, we’ll uncover more about what unfolds when a plea deal is turned away, unravelling the intricacies of the legal path ahead. Please stick with us for more insights into this critical choice.