In United States v. Tripodis, No. 22-12826 (Feb. 29, 2024) (Wilson, Grant, Lagoa), the Court upheld the supervised-release portion of the sentence for Mr. Tripodis’s general-conspiracy conviction under a negotiated plea agreement.

Mr. Tripodis argued that the plea agreement did not contemplate the imposition of supervised release, and that the government and the district therefore breached the agreement by recommending supervised release and erred by ordering it, respectively. The Court rejected both arguments. It determined that the plea agreement’s scope was unambiguous: it required only that the government recommend a total custodial sentence of sixty months. In the absence of a supervised-release provision, the government was free to recommend supervised release. The Court alternatively determined that, even if the agreement was ambiguous, extrinsic evidence reflected Mr. Tripodis’s understanding that he could be subject to supervised release. This evidence included Mr. Tripodis’s and his counsel’s statements at the initial plea entry and sentencing, Mr. Tripodis’s affirmative response to the district court’s asking if he understood that the court could sentence him to a three-year term of supervised release, and counsel’s failure to dispute the government’s argument for supervised release at sentencing.

Notably, the Court acknowledged that a defendant might be “unintentionally misled” where his plea agreement does not “explicitly state” the extent of the government’s promises to, or requirements of, the defendant. The Court therefore expressed that the government, in future cases, “should” make “clear . . . what it is promising—and what it is not—to the defendant.”

202212826.pdf (