Consequences of Failure by a Lawyer to Advise a Client Regarding Whether or Not to Accept An Offered Plea Bargain
Does Failure by a Counsel to Advise a Client Regarding Whether or Not to Accept an Offered Plea Violate Defendant's Constitutional Right to Counsel ?
In Boria v. Keane, 99 F.3d 492 (2d. Cir. Ct. App., 1996) the defendant was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance following a jury trial and he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of twenty years to life.
Represented by a new attorney, the defendant moved to vacate his judgment of conviction on the grounds that his trial counsel failed to properly advise the defendant as to how to deal with the offered pleas before trial.
A hearing was granted on this claim at which time the defendant's trial attorney testified that he had advised the defendant of the consequences of rejecting the offered plea but he had not discussed with the defendant the advisability of accepting or rejecting the offered plea because he was certain that the defendant would never admit his guilt or accept a plea.
After the hearing, the trial judge in Boria rejected the defendant's claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to advise the defendant whether or not to accept the offered plea and the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's denial of this claim.
Leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals was denied and the defendant then renewed his claim in Federal District Court by way of Habeas Corpus.
The United States District Court also rejected the defendant's claim and the matter was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit.
On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted the defendant's petition holding that counsel for the defendant was constitutionally required to discuss with the defendant the advisability of accepting an offered plea bargain and that his failure to do so violated the defendant's constitutional right to counsel. See, Boria v. Keane, supra, at 496-497.
The Court of Appeals reasoned that the presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of effective representation, as well as the presumption that operates to protect attorney's from having their strategic decisions judged in hindsight, does not apply to cases where counsel fails to give advice to a client regarding whether or not to accept an offered plea. Boria v. Keane, supra.