July 17, 2014
There is a recent decision where a defendant was sentenced to 240 months in Federal prison after not accepting a plea agreement offered by the government for a reduced sentence of 41 months for the crimes committed. The client maintained his insistence on his innocence which is why he likely decided to go to trial, but the potential severity of the consequences of a guilty verdict after trial was not explained to him by his attorney.
The Sixth Amendment right to counsel during the plea-bargaining process includes the right to be informed by counsel as to the range of penalties a client may face under the applicable federal sentencing guidelines. That right is based, at least in part, in our the fact that the difference between the punishment resulting from a plea agreement and that which would result from a conviction after trial is an extremely important factor that the defendant is entitled to consider in his decision-making process. If the lawyer did not provide his client with that information, he did not provide his client with adequate representation. The recent ruling provides relief for white-collar defendants based on ineffective counsel at time of plea bargaining.
Defending clients in Federal Court is very different from defending clients in State court. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are a very specific and detailed sentencing structure that most state court practitioners have no experience with.
Any attorney should be sure the client understands exactly what could happen if they accept the government’s offer to plead guilty versus what would happen if they went to trial and lost. This is one of the most essential functions of any Orange County criminal defense lawyer, particularly in a case where a client insists on his or her innocence.
“The court held that the lawyer in the recent case provided ineffective assistance of counsel. They stated that, “After a careful review of the evidence, the district court found that Sawaf’s attorney had indeed failed to advise him about the applicable sentencing guidelines at any time prior to his trial, resulting in “objectively unreasonable and constitutionally ineffective” assistance of counsel at the pre-trial stage of the proceedings….”
Full article, “Significant Sixth Circuit ruling finding Lafler prejudice despite defendant’s claims of innocence”
If you are an Orange County criminal lawyer, if you have been contacted by a potential client about representing an individual in a federal criminal case, it is essential that you have a complete understanding of the federal sentencing guidelines and other factors that the court must consider at sentencing. Associating with an experienced Orange County federal attorney in these cases is the perfect way to gain experience and knowledge about federal criminal defense while maintaining your relationship with your client base. Orange County criminal attorney, Diane C. Bass, would be more than happy to split fees or pay referral fees to assist in federal criminal cases.
If you or a loved one are under investigation for, or if you have been charged with, a federal criminal case, it is critical that you obtain representation by an experienced federal Orange County criminal attorney, like Diane C. Bass.