Bordenkircher v. Hayes Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Paul Lewis Hayes was charged with forgery, an offense which carried a two-to-ten-year prison sentence. During plea negotiations, the prosecutor offered to pursue a five year sentence if Hayes would plead guilty. However, the prosecutor also stated that he would seek an indictment under the Kentucky Habitual Crime Act if the defendant did not register this plea. (Hayes had two prior felony convictions on his record.) If found guilty under this law, Hayes would be imprisoned for life. Hayes did not plead guilty and the prosecutor followed through on his promise.


Does the New Hampshire state statute that prohibits unlicensed parades violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment?


“No. The Court held that the defendant’s due process rights were not violated in this case. Justice Stewart spent some time describing the important role that plea bargaining plays in the nation’s legal system, a role that has been accepted by the Supreme Court in cases such as Blackledge v. Allison (1977) and Brady v. United States (1970). This acceptance, in turn, implies that the prosecutor has a legitimate interest in persuading a defendant to relinquish his or her right to plead not guilty. Threatening a stiffer sentence is permissible and part of “any legitimate system which tolerates and encourages the negotiation of pleas,” Stewart declared.”

Case Information

Citation: 434 US 357 (1978)
Argued: Nov 9, 1977
Decided: Jan 18, 1978
Case Brief: 1978