United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Jul 13, 2024

§ 853a.
Art. 53a. Plea agreements
(a)
In General.—
(1)
Subject to paragraph (3), at any time before the announcement of findings under section 853 of this title (article 53), the convening authority and the accused may enter into a plea agreement with respect to such matters as—
(A)
the manner in which the convening authority will dispose of one or more charges and specifications; and
(B)
limitations on the sentence that may be adjudged for one or more charges and specifications.
(2)
The military judge of a general or special court-martial may not participate in discussions between the parties concerning prospective terms and conditions of a plea agreement.
(3)
With respect to charges and specifications over which a special trial counsel exercises authority pursuant to section 824a of this title (article 24a), a plea agreement under this section may only be entered into between a special trial counsel and the accused. Such agreement shall be subject to the same limitations and conditions applicable to other plea agreements under this section (article).
(b)
Acceptance of Plea Agreement.—
Subject to subsection (c), the military judge of a general or special court-martial shall accept a plea agreement submitted by the parties, except that—
(1)
in the case of an offense with a sentencing parameter set forth in regulations prescribed by the President pursuant to section 539E(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, the military judge may reject a plea agreement that proposes a sentence that is outside the sentencing parameter if the military judge determines that the proposed sentence is plainly unreasonable; and
(2)
in the case of an offense for which the President has not established a sentencing parameter pursuant to section 539E(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, the military judge may reject a plea agreement that proposes a sentence if the military judge determines that the proposed sentence is plainly unreasonable.
(c)
Limitation on Acceptance of Plea Agreements.—
The military judge of a general or special court-martial shall reject a plea agreement that—
(1)
contains a provision that has not been accepted by both parties;
(2)
contains a provision that is not understood by the accused;
(3)
except as provided in subsection (c), contains a provision for a sentence that is less than the mandatory minimum sentence applicable to an offense referred to in section 856(b)(2) of this title (article 56(b)(2));
(4)
is prohibited by law; or
(5)
is contrary to, or is inconsistent with, a regulation prescribed by the President with respect to terms, conditions, or other aspects of plea agreements.
(d)
Limited Conditions for Acceptance of Plea Agreement for Sentence Below Mandatory Minimum for Certain Offenses.—
With respect to an offense referred to in section 856(b)(2) of this title (article 56(b)(2))—
(1)
the military judge may accept a plea agreement that provides for a sentence of bad conduct discharge; and
(2)
upon recommendation of the trial counsel, in exchange for substantial assistance by the accused in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense, the military judge may accept a plea agreement that provides for a sentence that is less than the mandatory minimum sentence for the offense charged.
(e)
Binding Effect of Plea Agreement.—
Upon acceptance by the military judge of a general or special court-martial, a plea agreement shall bind the parties (including the convening authority and the special trial counsel in the case of a plea agreement entered into under subsection (a)(3)) and the court-martial.
(Added Pub. L. 114–328, div. E, title LVII, § 5237, Dec. 23, 2016, 130 Stat. 2917; amended Pub. L. 115–91, div. A, title V, § 531(d), title X, § 1081(c)(1)(H), Dec. 12, 2017, 131 Stat. 1384, 1598; Pub. L. 117–81, div. A, title V, §§ 539, 539E(b), Dec. 27, 2021, 135 Stat. 1698, 1701.)
cite as: 10 USC 853a