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Name: People v. Cantu
Case #: E048651
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/06/2010

A prosecutor may withdraw from a plea bargain before a defendant pleads guilty or otherwise detrimentally relies on that bargain. At a settlement conference, the prosecution verbally agreed to appellant’s counter-offer. Appellant completed a plea form setting forth the agreement that he, defense counsel, and the prosecutor signed. The form was submitted to the court. During a break, the prosecutor received additional information from the victim, who was not in agreement with the bargain, and the prosecutor and his supervisor decided to withdraw from the bargain and the court was so advised. Nevertheless, the court enforced the bargain, accepted appellant’s plea, and sentenced him accordingly. Rejecting appellant’s argument that fundamental fairness supported the trial court, the appellate court reversed. Under People v. Rhoden (1999) 75 Cal.4th 1346, a prosecutor may withdraw from a plea bargain unless a defendant has pled guilty or detrimentally relied on the bargain. Here the prosecutor withdrew from the bargain before appellant entered his plea and the court could approve it. Thus, the plea bargain never became effective.