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An Unjust Bargain: Plea Bargains and Waiver of the Right to Appeal

5-28-15 National:


The U.S. Supreme Court estimates that at least ninety percent of criminal convictions are based on guilty pleas. Frequently, criminal defendants are required to waive their appellate rights as a condition of the plea bargain.

The Supreme Court has not addressed the validity of these waivers, but most federal and state courts to address the issue hold them enforceable when they are made knowingly and voluntarily.

A minority of states grant defendants the statutory right to appeal adverse determinations on motions to suppress evidence following the entry of a guilty plea.

California and New York hold that this additional appellate right may be waived in a plea agreement.

This Note asserts that waivers of this specific right should not be enforceable because such waivers are often extracted under coercive circumstances that violate due process and contract law principles.

Furthermore, waivers of this right contravene legislatures’ interest in efficiency by encouraging defendants to proceed to trial solely to preserve their claims of error for appeal. ..Full Paper.. by Alexandra W. Reimelt

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