Articles Posted in Sentencing

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.

In many cases, mitigation of a case should begin at the very outset of a case by the lawyer taking a very proactive position immediately upon taking the client’s case. Often times what is done right away by taking a proactive posture on such things as psychological evaluations, immediately interviewing witnesses, counseling/therapy, substance abuse rehabilitation, letters of apology, etc. are some things that can be used early in a case that can have a tremendous favorable impact on the outcome of a case. I published an article in a Westlaw publication, unfortunately West has the copy right or I would link you to the article here, about building a mitigation case from the beginning, regardless if the case may be one that ultimately may go to trial. Caveat: these measures should NEVER be done without the guidance of an experienced lawyer who is ethical and skilled at negotiation and trial practice. In other words, Clients or those charges SHOULD NEVER do these things on their own.
The First District Court of appeals yesterday reversed a trial court for imposing a greater sentence because the convicted defendant did not show remorse. WE all know that innocent people get convicted every day throughout our country. How could we expect someone who is truly innocent to show remorse. In Dumas v. State, 1D12-1275 (Fla. 1st DCA Feb. 8, 2013) the First District Court of Appeals in Florida that includes Pensacola all the way to Defuniak Springs reversed a trial court because it imposed a longer sentence because the accused did not show remorse. Bravo for the First DCA.