Criminal defendants are often granted a right to counsel, often termed a right to effective assistance of counsel but measuring how effective that counsel is often falls well short of any definition of reasonable. The American Bar Association is now calling for this right to extend to plea bargains, not just trial.
Considering 95% of all cases nationwide settle in a plea bargain without trial, lawyers of every type are not being held to any standard presently when encouraging their clients to take advantage of some offer proffered by the prosecutor or negotiated on their behalf. Often, jack of all trades lawyers, without enough knowledge of consequences outside the criminal courts encourage pleas only to effectively shove their clients from the proverbial pot into the fire.
The most common mistakes made by lesser trained or specialized attorneys include immigration consequences including imprisonment and deportation and child and family services where children are routinely yanked from their parent’s arms after a plea.
While this is an important step forward, unless and until the courts raise the standards of what amounts to effective asssistance, it may be more bluster than real assistance. If we don’t define how knowledeable and helpful an attorney needs to be in order to be deemed effective in their assistance, it hardly matters whether they are required to provide counsel.
At the Perlman Law Group, we often delay our advice to clients in order to conduct research and consult with colleagues so that we can make certain that our clients aren’t at risk for unknown consequences. This guarantees that at least our client’s right to effective assistance of counsel is taken seriously.