In a case that is going to affect millions of individuals, the Supreme Court has voted 5-4 in favor of allowing criminal defendants who received bad advice during pre-trial plea agreements to have the sentences overturned. Having taken over hundreds of cases bungled by public defenders, our criminal defense lawyers are all too aware that this decision will have massive implications here in Southern California and beyond.
Given today’s economy, more and more people are turning to public defenders to handle their criminal cases. Unfortunately, this means that the public defender’s office is often overwhelmed and does not have the resources to devote the individual attention to each and every case. In order to lighten their case load, a public defender is much more likely to plea bargain without the best interest of their client in mind. This often results in defendants taking less than optimal plea agreements.
According to statistics, 97% of all federal convictions and 94% of all state convictions stem from guilty pleas from defendants who opted for a deal rather than a trial. Needless to say, there are millions of people who will be contacting an appeals attorney to see if they can get their conviction overturned.
The Supreme Court’s ruling stems from two separate cases in Michigan and Mississippi. In one case, the defendant rejected a plea deal due to the fact that his criminal defense attorney assured him that the prosecution would lose their case if it went to trial. The defendant was found guilty on all counts. The second case involved a defendant whose attorney failed to present him with two separate plea offers. The defendant eventually pled guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 3 years in jail, much more than the original plea offer.
What do you think? Will this ruling flood the courts with frivolous appeals or will it help to reduce the overcrowding in our jails and prisons?