If, after waiving counsel, you and the prosecutor talk and agree on how the case should be handled, the prosecutor and you will fill out a form called Tender of Plea or Admission & Waiver of Rights that includes the agreed-upon disposition. If you and the prosecutor do not agree, you may each write your separate recommendation on the form. The form must be signed by both you and the prosecutor and given to the clerk in the courtroom.
Please note that there may be consequences from pleading guilty that are not listed on this form but that may be important to you. For example, if you are not a United States citizen you could be deported, public housing benefits could be taken away and/or you may no longer be eligible for student loans, to list only a few possible consequences. Please consult an attorney to determine what specific consequences could apply to your case.
If you decide to proceed, once the form is turned in, your case will be called again. The judge will tell you whether he or she will accept your recommendation. If the judge in the district court does not accept your recommendation, you may agree to any other disposition the judge proposes. Or, if the judge does not accept your recommendation at arraignment (or at a pre-trial conference, see below), you have a right to withdraw your plea and have a trial on another date. Because the Judge cannot impose a sentence greater than the one you recommend, without your agreement, your plea at this point is "defendant capped." If you do not accept the Judge’s alternate recommendation, you will be given a date to come back for either a pre-trial conference or for trial. Note: If the next court date is for trial, (not a pre-trial conference), you may not be able to offer a "defendant capped" plea on a trial date.
For more information on guilty plea procedure, see the District /Municipal Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 4(c) and Mass. Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 12(c)
Part 2: Arraignment or First Appearance in Court
- Can court staff help me?
- What should I wear to court?
- Where should I go when I arrive at the court building?
- What should I do when I enter the arraignment courtroom?
- What conduct is expected in the courtroom?
- Who are the people in the courtroom?
- What will happen at my arraignment?
- Bail Basics: What Bail Is, How It Works
- When can I first talk to my court appointed lawyer?
- Can I dispose of my case at arraignment?
- What happens when I talk to the prosecutor (during a break in my court appearance) about resolving my case?
- Can my case be continued?
- What could my punishment be?
- What happens if I am charged with a crime but I am not a United States citizen?
- What is the difference between civil infractions, misdemeanors and felonies?
- What happens if my case is not resolved at arraignment?
- What should I do before I leave court?
- Part 3: Pre-Trial, Trial and Verdict