The Third Department, reversing County Court, determined defendant’s plea to a probation violation was involuntary and must be vacated:
The record reflects that the People’s final plea offer came with a prison sentence of 1½ years followed by six years of PRS. When defendant indicated that he wanted to admit to the probation violation and argue for a more lenient sentence, County Court stated that it could not “override” the recommended sentence unless defendant declined the offer and proceeded to a hearing. The court further told defendant that, if he took the offer, it was “up to the People” as to whether a lesser sentence could be considered. The People then turned down defendant’s proposal to cap his sentencing exposure at 1½ years in prison and stated that they would recommend a higher sentence if defendant rejected the offer and were found guilty following a hearing. Defendant thereafter accepted the offer.
The foregoing reflects, and the People concede, that County Court abdicated its responsibility to carefully consider all facts available at the time of sentencing and fashion an appropriate sentence …. Inasmuch as the proceedings were also marred by the People’s admittedly inappropriate threat to seek a harsher sentence if defendant rejected the offer and was found guilty after a hearing, however, the plea itself was involuntary. Thus, defendant is entitled to vacatur of his plea … , People v Roberts, 2019 NY Slip Op 07448, Third Dept 10-17-19