What is a Donald Hearing?

Donald hearing.

What is a Donald Hearing?

Criminal case court proceedings can seem complicated and confusing to anyone unfamiliar with the system. Rideout Law Group offers a step-by-step explanation of the order of events of a typical criminal case, however some cases may include additional types of hearings depending on the circumstances.

A “Donald hearing” is a much abbreviated settlement conference that provides an opportunity for the prosecutor and defense to discuss with the Court the current plea offer and potential penalties at trial. This also provides the Defendant an opportunity to be fully informed of the risks of rejecting a plea offer and instead setting the case for trial. In some situations, the hearings will be combined, with the Defendant receiving a “mini” Donald hearing within their settlement conference.

During a Donald hearing, the Defendant will:

  • Be advised of the current plea offer on the table.
  • Be advised of what could happen to them should the case go to trial.
  • Be informed of their sentencing ranges.
  • Be informed of the expiration date of the plea offer.
  • Learn if a waiver is possible.

Donald hearings are conducted on the record, meaning if any information given to the Defendant is inaccurate, the Defendant can use this in an appeals court.

Donald hearings include a “Donald advisement” that notes on the record that the Defendant was made aware of their plea agreement and the expiration date. Donald advisements are more common in felony cases rather than misdemeanors, where a significant sentence may be on the line. The Donald advisement thus prevents Defendants from claiming they were unaware of their plea deal if they lose in their criminal trial.

State v. Donald (2000)

Donald hearings get their name from the 2000 Arizona Court of Appeals case, State of Arizona v. Victor Gene Donald. In this case, the Defendant rejected his plea offer and then lost his case as trial. He claimed during his appeal that his attorney provided ineffective counsel by failing to make him understand the plea that was offered to him compared to the possible sentencing if he was convicted at trial.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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