Can a Judge Overturn a Plea Agreement?

A judge is able to overturn a plea agreement if he finds that it does not represent a proper resolution to a criminal proceeding. A judge must approve a plea agreement for it to become binding, according to Nolo.

When the prosecution presents a plea agreement for a judge's approval, he must indicate if any unusual elements exist, such as a lighter prison term in exchange for present or future testimony. Any special terms, such as allowing the completion of community service hours in a particular place or at particular times, must also be part of this disclosure. However, once the judge approves a plea agreement, the judge cannot overturn it later, according to Nolo.