Most criminal cases are resolved with a guilty plea. Criminal defense lawyers enter pleas so often, they can sometimes forget what the process is like for someone who hasn’t been through it 1000 times. They do not always explain the process or the terms of a deal in a way that makes sense. As frustrating as that is, that does not mean your or your loved one got a bad deal. It could very well be a good deal and you just need some time to unpack what happened and understand all the implications. A private attorney can help.
Sometimes, however, clients do get pressured into taking pleas that are not that great. Whether you can do anything about it depends on the circumstances.
Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye
A defense attorney has several functions at the plea bargaining stage. First, they should explain each aspect of the case, including:
- the strengths and weaknesses of the case
- the probable outcome of a trial
- the terms of the offer, and
- the possible sentences.
Second, attorneys have a federal constitutional duty to competently negotiate plea bargains.
If an attorney doesn’t adequately advise or explain everything to a client, or fails to negotiate a plea bargain on the client’s behalf, then the client might have a viable claim for ineffective assistance of counsel under Lafler and Frye.
Arguing that you had ineffective assistance of counsel after you have pleaded guilty is a very difficult task. But it is not impossible, especially if there are immigration consequences at play.