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NEWSLETTER ON PLE AGREEMENTS

Plea agreement without jurisdiction are void. Jurisdiction fails because of due process
violations (typically 6 in the grand jury process); fraud; and lack of jurisdiction (See 18
USC sections 3231, 4082; 4081). We are specialists in all 3 areas.
Plea agreements are contractual in nature, and the courts generally interpret such
agreements according to ordinary contract law principles. 1 However, because plea
agreements implicate the deprivation of human freedoms, the rules governing their
interpretation, although having their roots in the principles of contract law, also
acknowledge that the concern for due process outweighs the concern for freedom of
contract. 2 Thus, an analysis of a plea agreement is conducted with greater scrutiny than in
a commercial contract.

A plea agreement may be rendered invalid by an ambiguity in an essential term or
by mutual mistake about the meaning of such a term. 4 A plea agreement includes an
implied obligation of good faith and fair dealing. 5 A plea of guilty is only a waiver of non-
jurisdictional defects. A defendant may attack the voluntary and intelligent character of
the guilty plea or the ineffectiveness of counsel. 6 A guilty plea admits those facts that are
well pleaded in the charge, and does not preclude the defendant from claiming that those
facts do not constitute a crime or that the indictment does not properly charge an offense 7
which is a jurisdictional defect that is not waived by the entry of a guilty plea.

An illegal contract is a promise that is prohibited because the performance,
formation, or object of the contract is against the law. Black’s Law Dictionary, Second
Pocket Addition, 2001, pg. 140. A void contract is one that is of no legal effect, so that there
is really no contract in existence at all.