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Post-conviction relief is possible after a guilty plea

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Post-Conviction Relief |

Most criminal cases in Oregon end with a defendant entering a guilty plea, often after agreeing with prosecutors to a plea bargain that will determine the person’s punishment.

The fact a person pled guilty does not mean that they have no further options after they receive a sentence.

Defendants have the right to effective counsel both at a trial and, importantly, during plea bargaining.

The U.S. Supreme Court has in recent years clarified what the right to effective counsel means with respect to plea bargaining:

  • The attorney needs to advise their client of any significant consequences with respect to the person’s signing a plea deal, even if those consequences are not directly related to the person’s sentence.
  • They also need to have investigated the case well enough to be able to explain what rights and options a person is giving up by signing a plea deal.
  • At the most basic level, the attorney needs to make sure their client is entering a plea of guilty with their eyes wide open.
  • The attorney must communicate plea offers to their client and help their client evaluate them before the client decides to accept or reject the offer. The evaluation process requires the attorney to understand the case and have an accurate knowledge of the law. Not conveying an offer at all, or basing advice on a misunderstanding of the law, may deprive the defendant the right to effective assistance of counsel.

Oregonians who now regret how they handled a plea deal may have options

An Oregonian who now regrets their choices in plea negotiation, whether it involved accepting a guilty plea or refusing what turned out to be a good deal, may have legal options to pursue post-conviction relief.

Their defense attorney may have a role in making a poor decision, and that role may have made the plea-bargaining process unfair.

Whether a person received ineffective assistance of counsel will depend a lot on their individual facts and circumstances, so it is important that they understand their options and best arguments as they go through the post-conviction process.