In the news, the prosecutors for Michael Flynn recently withdrew their case for the reasons stated in this court brief.

However, Flynn has already pleaded guilty as mentioned several times in the brief, though he has been seeking to withdraw this plea:

Mr. Flynn previously pleaded guilty to making false statements. See Def’s Plea
Agreement, ECF Nos. 3-4.


Despite already pleading guilty, and a withdrawl of the prosecution, what decisions is the Judge legally allowed to make against (or for) the defendant at this point?

1 Answer 1


The government can’t withdraw

The government does not have a right to unilaterally withdraw charges once the case is before the court. All they can do is ask the court to dismiss the case as they have done here. It’s up to the court (judge) to decide whether to grant the motion to dismiss or not.

It granted, then the case has gone to completion and the defendant is legally not subject to punishment as they were not convicted of the crime, notwithstanding any previous guilty plea.

Now, while it would be unusual for a judge to refuse such a motion it’s not impossible and they might do so if they felt that the interests of justice are better served by completing the trial in the usual way. This is possibly more common in civil litigation where a losing plaintiff might not be permitted to settle if the judge doesn’t feel an innocent defendant is being adequately compensated.

  • The prosecution would presumably have a good reason. For example, very believable and damning evidence that turned out to be a lie, and the defendant only plead guilty because of that false evidence.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 14:37
  • @gnasher729 you can read the link in the OP and see if you think it’s reasonable
    – Dale M
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 22:01

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