State v. Justice
Case # A154685
Full Text of Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A154685.pdf
Defendant Justice was charged with Theft in the Third Degree, ORS 164.043 (a misdemeanor) for stealing $26.51 worth of merchandise from a Walmart. Justice and the State reached a plea agreement in which Justice would plead guilty to the lesser-included offense of Attempted Third-Degree Theft, a violation. However, the trial court refused to allow Justice to plea to that lesser-included violation, even after Justice filed a motion. The trial court based its decision on court “policy.” Justice was convicted following a bench trial and now challenges the trial court’s refusal to allow her to plead guilty to the violation.
The Court of Appeals concludes that the trial court abused its discretion when it refused to allow Justice to plea to the violation. The Court explains that the trial court is obligated to give “due consideration” to the plea agreement reached between the parties, pursuant to ORS 135.415. The trial court did not give due consideration but instead rejected Justice’s plea based solely on the court’s policy of not permitting defendants charged with misdemeanors to plead guilty to violations. The trial court thus failed to properly exercise its discretion, and the conviction is reversed and remanded.