Colorable Claim After Rejection of a Plea Agreement
May a Colorable Claim Arise from the Rejection of a Plea Agreement ?
The American Bar Association Standards for Criminal Justice require defense attorneys to "promptly communicate and explain to the accused all significant plea proposals made by the prosecutor."
ABA STANDARDS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE, PROSECUTION FUNCTION AND DEFENSE FUNCTION, Standard 4-6.2(b) (3d ed. 1993).
The explanation must suffice to permit the defendant to make a reasonably informed decision whether to accept or reject a plea offer. See Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 56-57, 88 L. Ed. 2d 203, 106 S. Ct. 366 (1985) (voluntariness of guilty plea depends on adequacy of counsel's advice).
"Whether to plead guilty or contest a criminal charge is ordinarily the most important single decision in a criminal case . . . and counsel . . . must give the client the benefit of counsel's professional advice on this crucial decision." United States v. Gordon, 156 F.3d 376, 380 (2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Boria v. Keane, 99 F.3d 492, 496-97 (2d Cir. 1996)).
To ensure that a defendant is adequately advised, "defense counsel has a duty to communicate . . . not only the terms of a plea bargain offer, but also the relative merits of the offer compared to the defendant's chances at trial."
Commonwealth v. Napper, 254 Pa. Super. 54, 385 A.2d 521, 524 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1978) (citing A.B.A. PROJECT ON STANDARDS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE: STANDARDS RELATING TO THE PROSECUTION FUNCTION AND THE DEFENSE FUNCTION, (Approved Draft, 1971)).