Ineffective assistance of counsel: rejecting a favorable plea bargain

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
December 27 2016

A defendant is rendered ineffective assistance of counsel if he or she rejects a favorable plea bargain due to “misadvice from defense counsel.” People v. Miralrio, 167 Cal.App.4th 448, 461 (2008); see In re Alvernaz, 2 Cal.4th 924 (1992); People v. Goodwillle, 147 Cal.App.4th 695, 734 (2007) (incorrect information from court and prosecutor).

This has been dealt with in toto by the Supreme Court in what is now know as the Laffler – Frye doctrine.

Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, which clarify the scope of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining, may be the most significant criminal justice decisions to come out in some time.


The right to effective assistance of counsel at the plea bargaining stage was already well established before these two companion decisions. See Padilla v. Kentucky, and Hill v. Lockhart.  But those decisions involved the issue of whether ineffective assistance of counsel caused the defendants to accept the offer of a guilty plea, thereby waiving their right to a trial.

In 5-4 decisions, and opinions by Justice Kennedy, in both cases, the Court  held that the two-part Strickland test to determine ineffective assistance of counsel properly applied to the rejection of the plea offer in Laflerand the  lapse of  the plea offer in  Frye.  In so doing, the Court rejected the arguments of the state prosecutors (and the United States as amicus) that  the  Strickland test  applied only where a deficient performance of counsel resulted in the acceptance of a plea bargain resulting in the waiver of the  right to a trial or  some other procedural or substantive right and could not apply in a case where following the rejection of the plea or its lapse, the defendant was sentenced after a fair trial or knowingly and intelligently accepted a subsequent  (but harsher) plea offer.



4 thoughts on “Ineffective assistance of counsel: rejecting a favorable plea bargain

  1. The judge decreed it, the clerk he wrote it
    The clerk he wrote it down indeed-e
    The judge decreed it, the clerk he wrote it down
    If you miss jail sentence, you’ll be Nashville bound

    Some got six months, some got one solid
    Some got one solid year, indeed-e
    Some got six months, some got one solid year
    But me and my buddy, we got lifetime here

    I wrote a letter, mailed it in the
    Mailed it in the air, indeed-e
    I wrote a letter, mailed it in the air
    You may know my brother, I’ve got a friend somewhere

    TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime

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    Clemency Project 2014

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