New Jersey Criminal Case – MISSOURI v. FRYE

On March 14, 2012, the Supreme Court held in MISSOURI v. FRYE that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to effective lawyers during plea negotiations.

MISSOURI v. FRYE

Facts:

  • Frye was charged with driving with a revoked license. Be¬cause he had been convicted of the same offense three times before, he was charged, under Missouri law, with a felony carrying a maxi¬mum 4-year prison term.
  • The prosecutor sent Frye’s counsel a letter, offering two possible plea bargains, including an offer to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor and to recommend, with a guilty plea, a 90-¬day sentence.
  • Counsel did not convey the offers to Frye, and they ex¬pired.
  • Less than a week before Frye’s preliminary hearing, he was again arrested for driving with a revoked license.
  • He subsequently pleaded guilty with no underlying plea agreement and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Procedural History:

  • Seeking post conviction relief in state court, he alleged his counsel’s failure to inform him of the earlier plea offers denied him the effective assistance of counsel, and he testified that he would have pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor had he known of the offer.
  • The court denied his motion.
  • The Missouri appellate court reversed, holding that Frye met both of the requirements for showing a Sixth Amendment violation under Strickland v. Washing¬ton, 466 U. S. 668.
  • Specifically, the court found that defense counsel had been ineffective in not communicating the plea offers to Frye and concluded that Frye had shown that counsel’s deficient performance caused him prejudice because he pleaded guilty to a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

Holding:

  • The Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel ex¬tends to the consideration of plea offers that lapse or are rejected.

Please visit the site of New Jersey Criminal lawyer, Jeffrey Hark for more information on criminal matters in NJ and more cases like this.

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