Ineffective Assistance of Counsel at Plea

Missouri v. Frye, 2012 WL 932020 (March 21, 2012) In a case where defendant was not advised of plea offer with a fixed expiration date, and subsequently entered a less favorable plea: (1) defense counsel was deficient in failing to communicate to defendant the written plea offers from the prosecutor, which would have either recommended a lesser sentence or would have allowed defendant to plead guilty to a lesser offense, before the offers expired; and (2) to demonstrate prejudice defendants must demonstrate a reasonable probability both that they would have accepted the more favorable plea offer and that the plea would have been entered without the prosecution’s canceling it or the trial court’s refusing to accept it. Lafler v. Cooper, 2012 WL 932020 (U.S. Mo., Mar. 21, 2012) In this case counsel advised defendant to reject a plea offer of 51-85 months based on a misunderstanding of state law, and defendant was convicted at trial and sentenced to 185-360 months. Both sides conceded ineffective assistance. With regard to prejudice the Supreme Court held that defendant would have to show that he would have accepted the plea offer, that the court would have accepted it, and that the conviction and sentence would have been less severe. With regard to remedy, the Court stated that the sentencing court could exercise discretion and determine whether the defendant should receive the term of imprisonment the government offered in the plea, the sentence he received at trial, or something in between. For more information go to www.hopelefeber.com