Breach of the Plea Agreement by the State
In State v. Chavez, 130 Ariz. 438, 636 P.2d 1220 (1981), both the defendant and the state had "labored under the misapprehension" that Chavez had been on parole in New Mexico and "would be returned to the New Mexico prison system to serve any sentence imposed in Arizona." 130 Ariz. at 439, 636 P.2d at 1221. Citing "the current law on guilty pleas," our supreme court stated, "A breach of the plea agreement by the state which renders the plea involuntary can be found 'when the spirit of the inducement, reasonably inferred from the written agreement, is breached.'" Id., quoting State v. Limpus, 128 Ariz. 371, 374, 625 P.2d 960, 963 (App. 1981); see also Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 262, 92 S. Ct. 495, 30 L. Ed. 2d 427 (1971) ("When a plea rests in any significant degree on a promise or agreement of the prosecutor, so that it can be said to be part of the inducement or consideration, such promise must be fulfilled.").
Employing principles of contract law "only by analogy," the court suggested Chavez's case did not involve a unilateral breach by the state, but "a mutual mistake of a material fact." Chavez, 130 Ariz. at 439, 636 P.2d at 1221.
The court found "the existence of a New Mexico parole violation" and the prospect Chavez would be able to serve his sentences there had been "crucial" to his plea agreement and held, "If the parties to a plea bargain were mistaken as to the existence of a material factor which caused them to enter the agreement, and this material factor is discovered after sentencing, the defendant can withdraw his guilty plea if such action is necessary to prevent manifest injustice." Id.