The Second Department determined Supreme Court properly exercised discretion in the face of defendant’s failure to complete treatment as required by the plea agreement. The court found that, although defendant had relapsed during the treatment for alcoholism, the relapse did not justify his being terminated by the program. Therefore the court did not vacate defendant’s guilty plea (on the ground it was induced by an unfulfilled promise) and fashioned a drastically reduced sentence (time served):
“[I]n most instances when a guilty plea has been induced by an unfulfilled promise either the plea must be vacated or the promise honored, but that the choice rests in the discretion of the sentencing court” … . In this case, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in determining that, although the defendant spent more than a year in residential substance abuse treatment programs, specific performance of the conditional plea agreement was not warranted. Although the court did not believe that the defendant’s alcohol relapse and other reported problems at the final treatment program he attended were the real reason for his discharge, those issues nevertheless suggested that the defendant’s alcoholism, which played a role in his commission of the instant offenses, remained an unresolved concern.
Moreover, the manner in which this case was ultimately resolved essentially split the difference between what was promised if the defendant was successful in treatment, and the sentence the Supreme Court could have imposed if he was not. Although the defendant’s conviction of sexual abuse in the first degree was not vacated, he was effectively sentenced to time served, instead of four years in prison. In addition, the alternative sentence that was contemplated at the time of the defendant’s pleas of guilty included seven years of postrelease supervision. Because the court sentenced the defendant to definite terms of imprisonment, however, he avoided being subject to postrelease supervision … . People v Boissard, 2022 NY Slip Op 05042, Second Dept 8-24-22
Practice Point: Usually a guilty plea induced by a plea agreement that was not fulfilled will be vacated. Here the defendant did not wish to withdraw his guilty plea and the court properly exercised discretion in fashioning a sentence much more lenient than that required by the plea agreement. The judge took into account the defendant’s attempts to comply with the treatment required by the plea agreement, and expressed the opinion defendant should not have been terminated by the program.