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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23155
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Sort of hypothetical. I reside in Illinois. facing two serious

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Sort of hypothetical. I reside in Illinois. facing two serious felonies. I have a past record. I tell my attorney we are not going to trial. "We will make a deal with the prosecution," I said. Time goes by. set for trial. When we arrive for trial, the State makes no offer. My attorney has not prepared for trial. No pre-trial motions. Has not interviewed witnesses whose names I gave him. He has not subpoenaed witnesses. He says we can't win at trial because he has no defense. He reminds me that I told him we would not go to trial, but we would take a deal with the State. He asked for a continuance, and I asked to address the Court, but both requests were denied. The judge refuses to grant a continuance and forces me into entering a blind plea. I am sentenced to nearly 20 years.
Question: Can I argue that received ineffective asistance of counsel where counsel had not interviewed witnesses and was not prepared for trial - even though I had given him names of witnesses and had asked that he file certain pre-trial motions, but even though I had insisted that we would not go to trial? As an attorney, he should know that the Strate does not have to offer me a deal. He never once suggested that we might have to go to trial. was he ineffective?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

Sometimes when a prosecutor has a serious case that he feels confident he can win, he will refuse to come below the top charge and make any kind of an offer on the case. That leaves a defendant only two alternatives -- get whatever the judge is willing to give you or go to trial.

A 20 year sentence is pretty steep, and but -- assuming a conviction on both charges and consecutive time, it might be substantially worse after a conviction. There's an old saying, "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." The odds of getting this plea overturned on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim are very, very low. But what if you got it? Do you now seriously believe that a trial is the answer, because you're surely not going to get another plea opportunity.

If your lawyer did not give you enough information to make an informed decision on your case and was not prepared if you'd rejected a last moment open plea, then yes, you could appeal on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. With a plea, however, even under the best of circumstances, these are almost never granted. Judges allocute defendants on the record with questions that are designed to get around consitutional objections, and if motions to set aside a conviction or withdraw a plea reach a hearing stage, then the defendant's own words at the time of the plea agreement can be used to impeach him and to cause his motion to be denied.
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