A criminal defense lawyer must advise the client of the potential sentencing differences between a plea bargain and after trial
On June 30, 2014, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals released (not for publication) the case of Sawaf v US which granted the defendant relief based on his attorney’s failure to advise him of the sentencing differences between taking a plea bargain offer and going to trial. The defendant was going to be subjected to a 41 month sentence after a plea bargain – the US Sentencing Guidelines indicated his sentence would be 235-293 months if convicted after trial. Defendant went to trial, lost and was sentenced to serve 240 months. The Defendant argued that because of the failure of his attorney to advise him of the sentencing disparity that he would have accepted the plea bargain – even though he steadfastly proclaimed his innocence.
The federal court of appeals found that continued insistence of innocence does not foreclose the possibility that a person would have entered a guilty plea if he had been aware of the consequences of proceeding to trial. If Mr. Sawaf has known about the difference in his sentence with a plea vs. a conviction after trial it is possible he would have entered a guilty plea despite his proclamation of innocence. Simply put, a person’s claim of innocence does not conclusively establish that there is no reasonable probability that his decision would have been different if he had been adequately informed about its consequences.
This is an important holding by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and unusual that the Court did not order it be released for publication.
A conviction may be reversed on appeal due to ineffective assistance of counsel
What if your family member was convicted of a felony or misdemeanor at trial in State or Federal court and he was not advised of a lower possible sentence with a plea? A criminal appellate lawyer can file motions in the trial court or appeal and request that the conviction be set aside based on the lawyer’s failure to communicate.
Michigan criminal defense attorney – fighting to reverse criminal convictions
The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience in all areas of criminal defense in both state and federal courts. If you, or a family member, were wrongfully convicted and you would like a lawyer to try and have the conviction set aside or reversed, it is important that you have the best possible legal assistance. If you have questions, please contact us at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and one of our attorneys will contact you.