Does a Lawyer Obligated to Inform His Client About Maximum and Minimum Sentences That Can Be Imposed In a Plea Offer ?

In People v. Curry, 178 Ill. 2d 509, 517, 687 N.E.2d 877, 227 Ill. Dec. 395 (1997), counsel advised the defendant of the State's plea offer but failed to inform the defendant that he would be subject to mandatory consecutive sentences if convicted of more than one of the charges he faced. This failure was based on counsel's admitted "erroneous" understanding of sentencing law at the time of the plea hearing. Our supreme court ruled that, in advising a defendant of the State's plea offer, "a criminal defense attorney has the obligation to inform his or her client about the maximum and minimum sentences that can be imposed for the offenses with which the defendant is charged." Curry, 178 Ill. 2d at 528. The court found that counsel did not fulfill that obligation and that his performance was deficient under Strickland. Curry, 178 Ill. 2d at 529. The court further found that in order to demonstrate prejudice under Strickland, the "defendant must demonstrate that there is a reasonable probability that, absent his attorney's deficient advice, he would have accepted the plea offer." Curry, 178 Ill. 2d at 531. The court found that the defendant met that standard, noting that the defendant did not have a strong case, the disparity between the 12-year mandatory minimum sentence that the defendant faced and the 4 1/2;-year plea offer, and defense counsel's affidavit stating that the defendant rejected the plea offer because of counsel's erroneous advice. Curry, 178 Ill. 2d at 533.