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New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL

New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL
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Effective Assistance Includes Plea Advice

Recognizing that the plea bargaining process is an integral part of the criminal justice system, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the Sixth Amendment guarantee to effective assistance of counsel extends to the plea process and, more specifically, that defendants can challenge a conviction and sentence based on the claim of ineffectiveness in plea negotiations and advice.  Missouri v. Frye, and Lafler v. Cooper.  NYSACDL President Richard Willstatter’s observations were recently quoted in the National Law Journal: “[i]t seems intuitively obvious, and as the Supreme Court recognized, that counseling people with respect to guilty pleas is one of the most important things lawyers do in representing people accused of crimes. . . . It is manifestly incompetent not to advise your client to take a plea if you strongly believe he should, just like it would be incompetent for a lawyer to advise a client to take a plea offer that the lawyer thought was a bad idea. We give advice. That is what we do.”  Justices Stress Need for Effective Advice on Whether to Accept a Plea, Tony Mauro, National Law Journal, March 22, 2012