United States v. Benchimol
471 U.S. 453 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Benchimol, 471 U.S. 453 (1985)

United States v. Benchimol

No. 84-1165

Decided May 13, 1985

471 U.S. 453

Syllabus

In 1976, respondent pleaded guilty in Federal District Court to a charge of mail fraud, pursuant to a plea bargain whereby the Government agreed to recommend probation on condition that restitution be made. However, the court disregarded the recommendation and sentenced respondent to six years of treatment and supervision under the Youth Corrections Act. After serving 18 months of his sentence, he was arrested for parole violation, but, a few days before his arrest, he moved to withdraw his guilty plea or, in the alternative, to have his sentence vacated and be resentenced to the time already served, claiming that the Government had failed to comply with its part of the plea bargain. The District Court denied relief, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Government had breached its plea bargain because, although the Assistant United States Attorney, at the sentencing hearing, had agreed with defense counsel's statement that the Government recommended probation with restitution, he did not explain his reasons for the recommendation, and left the impression of less than enthusiastic support for leniency.

Held: The Court of Appeals misconceived the effect of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(e), which governs plea bargaining, and of the applicable case law. Even assuming that the Government, in a particular case, may commit itself to make a certain recommendation to the sentencing court "enthusiastically" or to explain to the court its reasons for making the recommendation, there is no contention or finding that the Government had, in fact, undertaken to do either of such things here. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that, under Rule 11(e), such an undertaking is to be implied as a matter of law from the Government's agreement to recommend a particular sentence. There was simply no default on the Government's part here.

Certiorari granted; 738 F.2d 1001, reversed.

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