In re People

In In re People, 51 V.I. 374, 387 (V.I. 2009), the prosecutor telephoned defendants' counsel and offered a plea bargain in which the defendants would plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Defendants' counsel returned the prosecutor's call and accepted the plea offer. However, before the court could hold a change-of-plea hearing, the People informed defendants' counsel that they had offered a plea of voluntary, not involuntary, manslaughter. When this representation was contradicted by evidence of the People's initial offer in a recorded voicemail message propounded by the defendants, People's counsel stated that he had misspoken when he offered involuntary manslaughter. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for specific performance of the involuntary manslaughter plea offer. However, the Court reversed because the government retained the prosecutorial discretion to unilaterally withdraw their offer until the defendants had pleaded guilty and the court had accepted such plea, in the absence of detrimental reliance. 51 V.I. at 393-94.