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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
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 Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause prohibit state prosecutors from carrying out a threat made during plea negotiations to re-indict the accused on more serious charges if he does not plead guilty to the offense with which he was originally charged?

Decision: 5 votes for Bordenkircher, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

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.

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BORDENKIRCHER v. HAYES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
BORDENKIRCHER v. HAYES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"BORDENKIRCHER v. HAYES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,