Criminal Defense Attorney: Supreme Court Lays Out New Plea Bargain Standards

Supreme Court

This Wednesday a divided bench issued new standards for plea bargains in criminal cases, saying that criminal defense attorneys need to competently advise and inform clients of prosecution’s offers for less jail time for convictions and guilty plea bargain offers.

Justice Antonin Scalia dissented calling the decisions “absurd” and warning courts would be flooded with appeals from criminals now claiming their plea bargain rights were violated, despite the fact that there is no legal right to a plea bargain.

Despite Scalia’s objections, Justice Kennedy issued his opinion, which will require criminal defense lawyers to inform their clients of plea bargain offers, regardless of whether or not they think the client should accept them, and also must give clients advice on whether to accept a plea bargain at all stages of prosecution. If not, the opinion states, defense lawyers will run afoul of the Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel during proceedings.

Kennedy was joined in both opinions by the court’s liberals, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Justice Scalia was joined in full or part in dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas. Alito joined Scalia’s dissent in one case. Scalia noted that prosecutors were being punished by having their cases go back to court, when it was the defense lawyers who made the errors.

The defense attorneys at Alcock & Associates are happy with the decision set forth by the Supreme Court this Wednesday, everyone involved in the criminal justice system should have an attorney who advises them of their options. When an offer to a lesser sentence or lower charge is sent by a prosecutor, some attorneys will decide for the client without ever conveying that message, assuming that the attorney knows what’s best for the client since they have a degree in law and experience in the field. This is NOT how the criminal defense attorneys at Alcock & Associates operate. We always consider the clients interests first and foremost, and understand that the criminal process is a trying one, we value the opinions of all of our clients and do not just assume that we know what is best for them. And the Supreme Court’s decision today affirms that belief.

For information on criminal defense representation in Phoenix, Arizona, call 602-989-5000 or visit us at today.

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