Scenario 1:

Question : Defendant is charged with intentional murder in the second degree. The assistant district attorney offers the defendant a plea to manslaughter in the second degree with a recommended sentence of 5 to 15 years. Is the offer legal?

Answer : The plea offer is illegal.

By statute, a reduced plea must be to a lesser included offense as defined by CPL 220.20 (see People v Johnson, 89 NY2d 905; People v Crute, 236 AD2d 208). And, CPL 220.10(5)(d)(i) requires a plea to at least a class C violent felony in satisfaction of an indictment charging a class A felony. There is no class C violent felony that is a lesser included offense of PL 125.25(1). Although manslaughter in the second degree is a class C felony, it is not classified a violent felony under PL 70.02(1). Accepting such a plea offer is risky because it is susceptible to attack prior to sentencing as illegal ( Van Leer-Greenberg ex rel Morris v Massaro, 87 NY2d 996; People v Bartley, 47 NY2d 965; People v Klumpp, 269 AD2d 798; People v Guin, 243 AD2d 649).

It appears that the only legal pleas are to attempted murder in the second degree, or manslaughter in the first degree (PL 125.20(1) or (2)), all class B violent felonies. For a first felony offender convicted of any of these B violent felonies, the minimum sentence is a determinate term of 5 years plus a period of post-release supervision of between 2 1/2 and 5 years. The maximum term in most cases is a determinate term of 25 years. Therefore, the offered sentence of a minimum prison term of 5 years is obtainable, provided defendant is willing to plead to a class B violent felony.

GungaWeb handles the question like this:

Click on Article 125, then PL 125.25 to retrieve the charge. Click on Pleas to obtain a Plea Bargain report as follows:

Return to the charge and click the LIO link for PL 125.25(1) to obtain a list of lesser included offenses.

Observe that the offered plea, manslaughter in the second degree, is listed as a lesser included offense, class C felony, but not a violent felony. Therefore the plea offer is illegal. Return to the charge and with two clicks prepare a Sentencing Report for a first felony offender convicted of an attempt to commit the charged crime, containing the following possible prison sentences:

With these results in hand, reformulate the proposed disposition so that a just result is achieved, within the law.

Features Menu