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## Situation Analysis: Fiancé’s Plea Deal and Legal Options

### Background:
My fiancé reluctantly accepted an Alfred Plea at the advice of his court-appointed lawyer, fearing a life sentence if he went to trial. He claims he was pressured into it and his attorney did not adequately present his case. He is now serving a lengthy sentence of 25-31 years and wishes to reevaluate his legal options.

### Current Dilemma:
I am torn between supporting my fiancé’s desire to seek a review of his case with a new lawyer and the financial implications of hiring private legal representation. I am also uncertain about the possibility of success in overturning his conviction or potentially facing a harsher sentence if his case goes back to trial.

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### Recommended Course of Action:
1. Consult with a reputable attorney to assess the feasibility of challenging the Alfred Plea and exploring avenues for possible dismissal or reduction of charges.
2. Consider the financial implications of pursuing legal action and weigh the potential outcomes with the assistance of the AI Legalese Decoder.
3. Ensure thorough research and preparation before making any decisions regarding your fiancé’s legal case to maximize the chances of a favorable outcome.

By leveraging the AI Legalese Decoder’s capabilities and seeking professional legal advice, you can make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of the legal system with confidence and clarity. Remember that your support and dedication to helping your fiancé in this difficult situation are invaluable, and together, you can work towards pursuing justice and achieving a fair resolution.

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14 Comments

  • Cypher_Blue

    You can absolutely contact a criminal defense attorney and ask them to take another look.

    But “Take this plea because you’re likely to get convicted and get life in prison if you go to trial” is something that can absolutely be a true statement and good legal advice.

  • Bricker1492

    Not to heap more pessimism on your shoulders, but when your fiancé’s plea was accepted, the judge engaged in a *colloquy* with him: the judge asked a series of questions designed to ensure that the plea was being entered knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. One question that was virtually certain to have been asked: “Did anyone threaten or coerce you into entering this plea?”

    To come back now and challenge the plea based on a claim of coercion or undue pressure, then, will face the obstacle of vitiating the explicit denial of coercion that he made.

    This will be difficult. As others here have hinted, it’s not “coercion,” to be told that the prosecution’s case is strong and a conviction is likely. In fact, the Alford plea itself speaks to the strategic aspect of the decision: “I don’t admit guilt, but I acknowledge that the prosecution can present legally sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.”

    Still, when the downside is years in prison, it absolutely makes sense to roll the dice with any theory that might result in vacating the plea. But of course, as you yourself acknowledge, the end result of a victory on that question merely places your fiancé back in the same position he was before he entered the plea: facing a strong prosecution case with an even worse sentence possible if he goes to trial and loses.

    You asked, “There is any chance he can get a charge dismissed if he is able to prove he was forced into the plea deal?” No. The result of vacating the deal merely places him bak at square one. This doesn’t operate in any way as a path to dismissal (assuming that there’s not some other factor in play, like gross prosecutorial misconduct).

  • derspiny

    Appealing his own plea is a very difficult prospect. It’s possible, but nothing you’ve said about his understanding of the situation suggests that it’s likely to be successful for him. If he wants a second opinion, I would encourage him to get one, but I would also encourage him to keep his expectations in check and to plan on serving out his sentence regardless.

    > if I was a juror, in all honesty, I would have a hard time finding him innocent based on the “evidence” I’ve been able to review.

    What you are saying here is very likely to be why he felt he was “guaranteed to lose.” Pleas are a risk management choice – he took a guaranteed conviction on what was probably a lesser charge or lighter sentence, in preference to a very likely conviction at trial on a more serious charge or with a longer sentence. That’s coercive, certainly, but it’s not the kind of coercive that allows a successful appeal.

    > I feel very overwhelmed and I’m not sure what to do about any of this.

    That’s valid, and I feel for you.

    The truth is, there’s little _you_ can do for your partner. If there is an appealable issue, it’s up to him to conduct that appeal (with his own lawyer). In terms of material support, you can help him find another attorney, or help him pay for one, or provide him with a sympathetic ear while he does those things himself (which he can do, even from behind bars, though it is harder), as you prefer. I would, however, _strongly_ encourage you to plan on the premise that you’re engaged to someone who will be serving time for the next several decades, even if you personally believe that he is innocent. On a personal side, I would understand if this calls the viability of your marriage plans into question, but that’s an issue only you get a say in.

  • Maxsoup

    Your fiancé is facing a near impossible effort here to overturn a plea he willingly signed. From what you’ve stated I think it would be almost a zero chance to prove either coercion or ineffective assistance of counsel. Even if that was the case, the state would be able to prosecute him still, and it sounds like there’s significant and convincing evidence to secure a conviction. It sounds like your fiancé is simply finally understanding the reality and severity of his sentence.

  • MeVersusShark

    Withdrawing a plea is usually not easy. There has to be some showing that it was coerced or faulty in some way beyond the usual pressure a defendant faces before being tried. Simply saying, “I regret taking my plea because I really think I’m innocent now” isn’t going to fly. Things that might fly include, but are not limited to: being under the influence of medication that affected your ability to understand the allocution, not being informed by your attorney of your right to trial or testify, being offered the plea based on an illegal condition by the prosecution (though that varies by state).

    If your fiance successfully withdraws his plea, the charges would not be dismissed. They would be reinstated and he would be tried, which might not be in his overall best interest, given what you’ve described.

    Though this is beyond strict legalism, I would also be considering *why* your fiance might be telling you he’s innocent at this juncture. It’s one thing to concede guilt to a judge, but it is quite another to admit wrongdoing to loved ones. I personally think the latter is much harder.

    Also, it is an Alford plea.

  • fatherlyadvicepdx

    You can reach out to another criminal defense attorney. Make sure your fiance has the money to cover it instead of spending your own money. Then move on. He’s not getting out of prison for a long time.

  • bastthegatekeeper

    Typically the result of withdrawing a plea is getting a new trial, not the dismissal of charges

  • Holysmokesohno

    An Alford plea is functionally a guilty plea. A defendant doesn’t just get to decide he wants out of the deal after he’s been sentenced because he doesn’t like the sentence.

    He can try and pursue post-conviction relief. I’m not hearing anything in your post that would suggest he would have a good ineffective assistance claim, but that’s something he would need to explore with post conviction counsel. Understand that even if he is able to get out of the plea, the case isn’t dismissed. He will be back in court and forced to decide if he wants to accept a plea or go to trial.

  • Tamryn

    You don’t say what state you are in. It’s likely that if he wants to withdraw his guilty plea, he has to do so within so many days. Taking an attorney’s advice that you’re unlikely to succeed at trial is not the same as coercion. And attorneys aren’t required to make the arguments that the client wants to make. If his attorney truly refused to represent him at a trial, that’s something he could potentially argue in a motion to withdraw the guilty plea. But that’s rare, and it’s even more rare for a court to allow someone to withdraw their plea. Your fiancé probably answered a bunch of questions at the plea hearing saying he was satisfied with his attorney and was pleading guilty of his own free will, and that will work against him. Plus, even if he was allowed to withdraw his plea, that doesn’t mean his charges go away. He would just be in the position he was in before pleading guilty, facing the same charges, only now with a judge who is unlikely to accept another plea from him and a prosecutor who is unlikely to offer him a deal.

  • Special-Border-1810

    Consider having the case reviewed by a nonprofit justice group to see if there is cause to overturn the plea or otherwise appeal. Contact the nearest law school to see if they have a program that can help.

  • Old-Run-9523

    If he had court-appointed counsel for his plea, he probably qualifies for a court-appointed attorney on a Post-Conviction Relief motion. There are short & strict time limits, which he would have been advised of at sentencing. As others have said, it’s very unlikely he would be able to withdraw his plea and it’s certainly not something worth jeopardizing your financial future over.