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Those who face criminal tax charges may consider accepting a plea deal from the government. When the prosecution offers a plea agreement, they are generally promising the accused certain things as defined within the agreement in exchange for the accused to admit to wrongdoing. The agreement will also include details of the admission.

A failure to abide by this document can result in serious ramifications. When it comes to tax cases, a prosecutor’s violation of a plea agreement generally results in the following:

  • Review. The first outcome is a likely review and re-do of the agreement. This can provide the accused an opportunity to argue for a better agreement or to rescind the guilty plea.
  • Investigation. The mistake will also likely trigger the Department of Justice to conduct an ethics investigation of the offending prosecutor. Plea deals are often based on trust and a failure to abide by the deal can make it difficult for the prosecutor’s office to move such deals forward in the future. As a result, the local bar organization and court generally take such violations seriously.

Once the breach is realized, the sentencing progresses before a different judge.

A recent case provides an example of how this can unfold. In the case, a man accused of filing false tax returns agreed to a plea deal stating the tax loss at $100,000. During sentencing, the prosecutor argued the judge should consider the fact that the actual loss was over $3 million — a violation of the agreed upon $100,000. As a result, the case was sent to another court.