Proving you received bad advice from your lawyer may not always help you avoid a conviction. In a case recently decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a convicted defendant complained that his federal prosecution should be barred because a state prosecutor orally promised that the state would not prosecute him if he cooperated. The defendant’s retained lawyer told him that the state prosecutor’s promise “gave him complete immunity—not just from state prosecution but from the use of his statement in any prosecution against him, state or federal.” That advice was not accurate.
The defendant tried to avoid the prosecution and suppress his statements. He argued that the incriminating statements made during his “cooperation” (the Government contended he lied) were involuntary. But there was no Government misconduct (only the bad advice by the defendant’s attorney). He argued that he reasonably relied on the state prosecutor’s promise. But the state prosecutor’s promise did not extend to federal prosecution. Finally, he argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. But because the “cooperation” occurred before the defendant was charged, the defendant did not have any Sixth Amendment rights (so he could not make an ineffective assistance of counsel claim). Having found all of the defendant’s arguments unavailing, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.
Trying to recover from bad advice in a criminal case is often like trying to put toothpaste back in the container. If you find yourself involved in any way in a criminal prosecution, it is best to seek advice from a competent criminal attorney who will ensure that every reasonable step is taken to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
The case cited to and quoted from above is United States v. Stadfeld, 689 F.3d 705 (7th Cir. 2012) (italics in original).