A recent case before the New Mexico Court of Appeals clarified whether a court could sentence an individual to more time than agreed to in a plea agreement if a portion of that sentence was suspended. In State v. Miller, the Court held that the suspended portion of the sentence counted as part of the sentence and therefore courts could not sentence a defendant for more time than agreed to under the plea agreement, regardless of whether a portion of the sentence is suspended or not.
A plea agreement is an agreement between a defendant and the prosecutor where a defendant pleads guilty to a charge in exchange for certain concessions like a reduced sentence, dismissal of other charges or other recommendations to the court favorable to the defendant. The agreement is then presented to the court, which must accept or deny it. Once the court accepts the agreement, it is binding on all parties, including the court itself.
In State v. Miller, the defendant entered into a plea agreement whereby he would receive a sentence of no less than ten and no more than forty years in prison. After the agreement was accepted by the district court judge, the court sentenced him to forty-two years imprisonment with a suspension of nine years, for a total initial sentence of thirty-three years. The defendant appealed, arguing that the forty-two year sentence violated the plea agreement.
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