For many years, criminal defense lawyers in Florida as well as other states are prohibited from telling clients who chose to enter “no contest” or “guilty” pleas anything that may induce the client to enter into a guilty plea that the attorney does not know with certainty. For example, in Florida cases have been reversed when attorneys have told clients they will receive a specific amount of gain time in state prison or county jail. Such knowledge may generally be known by the attorney and may even be accurate. However, such information, like “gain time” is subject to change by the Florida Department of Corrections and/or many variables including the inmates own conduct.
In February of 2013, the United States Supreme Court found that a client’s Sixth Amendment Right to Effective Assistance of counsel applies to the the plea bargaining process. This also means that a defense attorney has a duty to communicate to the defendant formal plea offers from the prosecution that may have favorable terms and conditions. In addition to limitations and obligations on what the attorney may or must communicate to the client, it also means, in a post-conviction Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850 motion, that a defendant can establish prejudice in a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel based on his or her attorney’s deficient legal advice to reject a plea offer, even though the defendant was later convicted after a full and fair trial.
For more information please contact us at The Law Offices of M. James Jenkins and Associates so we can explain the process in detail.