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United States v. Benchimol

Case Name
United States v. Benchimol
471 U.S. 453
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
Per Curium
Judge(s) - Majority
Warren Burger, Byron White, Blackmun, Lewis Powell, William Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor
Judge(s) - Concur
John Paul Stevens
Judge(s) - Dissent
William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
9th Circuit
Decision Year
Sentencing Differential (Maximum Exposure)
5 years (though sentenced to 6 years under the Youth Corrections Act)
Sentencing Differential (Minimum Offered or Received)
Sentencing Differential Size
5 years


Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud pursuant to a plea bargain where the Government would recommend probation with restitution. The district court disregarded the Government’s recommendation and sentenced defendant to six years of treatment and supervision under the Youth Corrections Act. Defendant was eventually arrested for a parole violation. Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea or, alternatively, to vacate his original sentence and be resentenced to his time already served. The Court upheld the conviction because the Government was not bound to recommend or explain to the district court the reasons behind the sentence to which the parties agreed. Though the Government may agree to do so under Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(e), such agreement must be explicit. Terms of the agreement cannot be implied as a matter of law. Here, the Court found no indication of the Government’s agreement to convey enthusiasm for its recommendation and refused to read any implied-in-law terms into it. Consequently, the Court determined that the Government did not default on its plea agreement with defendant.

Key Quote

“[O]ur view of Rule 11(e) is that it speaks in terms of what the parties in fact agree to, and does not suggest that such implied-in-law terms as were read into this agreement by the Court of Appeals have any place under this Rule.” p.455