TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in
relation to a plea of guilty
This measure is being introduced at the request of the Judiciary upon
the recommendation of the New York State Permanent Commission on
Provisions of this Measure
This measure would amend sections 220.10(5) and 220.30(3) of the
Criminal Procedure Law to permit a plea of guilty, notwithstanding any
current statutory restriction on such a plea otherwise, when both the
prosecutor and the court are satisfied that, in the interest of
justice, the nature and circumstances of the criminal conduct, the
available evidence and the history and character of the defendant
justify such plea.
Section one of this measure would amend section 220.10, which sets
forth the rules governing when a defendant charged in a single
indictment may take a guilty plea, Subdivision (5) of section 220.10
now sets forth restrictions on the taking of such a plea depending
upon the charges that the defendant faces, e.g., where defendant is
charged with a certain B felony, then any guilty plea he or she enters
to the indictment must include a plea of guilty to a felony. The
amendment to section 220.10(5) provided in this measure would permit
defendant, with permission of the court and consent of the people, to
enter a guilty plea to a charge not now permitted by section 220.10
under circumstances where, based on the nature and circumstances of
the criminal conduct, the available evidence and the defendant's
history and character2, both court and prosecutor believe such guilty
plea would be in the interest of justice.
Section two of this measure makes a comparable amendment to section
220.30(3)(b), which sets forth the rules governing when a defendant
charged in multiple indictments may take a single guilty plea in
satisfaction of those indictments.
Note that neither of the foregoing changes will alter the law with
respect to a guilty plea when capital murder is charged or in the case
of a juvenile offender.
Prior to the Rockefeller Drug Laws, a plea of guilty to less than an
entire indictment was permitted with the consent of the court and
prosecutor. There were no other statutory restrictions on a guilty
plea to a lesser offense.
When proposing his Drug Laws in the early 1970s, Governor Rockefeller
wanted to bar a defendant from evading the higher penalties called for
thereunder by pleading guilty to a lesser crime, even where the court
and prosecutor consented; and, so, the laws governing the taking of
guilty pleas were amended accordingly. Since then, the Legislature has
applied similar restrictions upon pleas to broader classes of felonies
than those originally envisioned as part of the Drug Law enactment.
The Sentencing Commission now recognizes that information such as
might justify resolution of a criminal charge by guilty plea may not
often be complete on the day that the indictment is filed; and, yet,
that is the day on which the plea restrictions now set forth in
sections 220.10 and 220.30 attach. Experience has shown that the
nature and weight of the evidence against defendant may change over
time and, as a result, the prosecutor's belief as to the proper level
of a defendant's culpability, particularly among his or her
accomplices, may change as well. The result: despite' ongoing efforts
by prosecutors, courts and criminal defendants and their counsel to do
justice within the current statutory framework, the arbitrary and
artificial restrictions on guilty pleas dictated by that framework may
force expensive and unnecessary trials, which can be contrary to the
interests of the prosecution, the defendant and the community.
Accordingly, the Commission urges the enactment of this measure. While
keeping the current plea restrictions intact, the measure adds an
escape valve to permit the doing of justice in especially compelling
cases. It does this by supplying a mechanism for overriding the
restrictions on guilty pleas where, upon consideration of the nature
and circumstances of the criminal conduct, the available evidence and
the defendant's history and character, both the court and the people
agree that bypassing the restrictions is warranted in the interest of
justice. This mechanism will promote fairness for individual
defendants, spare communities the need to expend precious resources on
unnecessary trials and, overall, further the administration of
This measure would take effect immediately.
None. New proposal.
*The New York State Sentencing Commission, was established by the
Chief judge of the State in UN. It is co-chaired by the Hon. Barry
Kamins, Administrative Judge for the NYC Criminal Court and for
criminal matters in the Second judicial District, and Hon. Cyrus
Vance, Jr., New York County District Attorney. Its members include a
broad spectrum of representatives from the criminal justice community,
including criminal defense attorneys, judges, policymakers, academics
and victim advocates, The Commission serves in an advisory capacity to
the Chief judge and is charged with comprehensively evaluating
sentencing laws and practices and recommending reforms that will
improve the quality and effectiveness of statewide sentencing policy.
**The amendment requires that all of these factors be placed upon the
record, although the failure-to do so would not be grounds for the
defendant to have his or her plea set aside.
***Note that there is precedent for this measure under current law
wherein, under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, the people and the court
may consent to a defendant's guilty plea to a violation of the DWI
laws albeit such plea is otherwise barred by statute, See VTL
S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
2013-2014 Regular Sessions
I N A S S E M B L Y
May 28, 2013
Introduced by M. of A. LENTOL -- (at request of the Office of Court
Administration) -- read once and referred to the Committee on Codes
AN ACT to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to a plea of
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
1 Section 1. Subdivision 5 of section 220.10 of the criminal procedure
2 law is amended by adding a new paragraph (i) to read as follows:
3 (I) A DEFENDANT, WITH BOTH THE PERMISSION OF THE COURT AND THE CONSENT
4 OF THE PEOPLE, MAY ENTER A PLEA OF GUILTY AS AUTHORIZED BY THIS SECTION,
5 NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPHS (A), (B), (C), (D), (F) AND
6 (H) OF THIS SUBDIVISION, WHEN UPON REVIEW OF THE NATURE AND CIRCUM-
7 STANCES OF THE CRIMINAL CONDUCT, THE AVAILABLE EVIDENCE AND THE HISTORY
8 AND CHARACTER OF THE DEFENDANT, THE PROSECUTOR AND THE COURT ARE OF THE
9 OPINION THAT THE PLEA IS IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE. THE FACTORS
10 WARRANTING THE PLEA SHALL BE PLACED ON THE RECORD; HOWEVER, THE FAILURE
11 TO DO SO SHALL NOT ENTITLE THE DEFENDANT TO HAVE THE PLEA OF GUILTY SET
13 S 2. Paragraph (b) of subdivision 3 of section 220.30 of the criminal
14 procedure law is amended by adding a new subparagraph (x) to read as
16 (X) A DEFENDANT, WITH BOTH THE PERMISSION OF THE COURT AND THE CONSENT
17 OF THE PEOPLE, MAY ENTER A PLEA OF GUILTY AS AUTHORIZED BY THIS SECTION,
18 NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF SUBPARAGRAPHS (I), (II), (III), (IV),
19 (V), (VI), (VII) AND (IX) OF THIS PARAGRAPH, WHEN UPON REVIEW OF THE
20 NATURE AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CRIMINAL CONDUCT, THE AVAILABLE EVIDENCE
21 AND THE HISTORY AND CHARACTER OF THE DEFENDANT, THE PROSECUTOR AND THE
22 COURT ARE OF THE OPINION THAT THE PLEA IS IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE.
23 THE FACTORS WARRANTING THE PLEA SHALL BE PLACED ON THE RECORD; HOWEVER,
24 THE FAILURE TO DO SO SHALL NOT ENTITLE THE DEFENDANT TO HAVE THE PLEA OF
25 GUILTY SET ASIDE.
26 S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.