Lawyers Must Communicate Guilty Plea Offers to Clients

On November 5, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided Bell v. State (Opinion No. 5277), holding that Bell’s lawyer was ineffective for not telling him about a guilty plea offer.  In his post-conviction relief (PCR) hearing, Bell testified that he would have pleaded guilty and not have taken a jury to trial, had he known about the plea offer.

The Court further held Bell was prejudiced because he received a twenty (20) year sentence after his jury trial, rather than the ten (10) years previously offered by the prosecutor.

Our Court’s decision in Bell is consistent with the United State’s Supreme Court decisions in Missouri v. Frye, 132 S.Ct. 1399 (2012) and Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S.Ct. 1376 (2012).

Bell also illustrates the importance of the lawyer-client communication.

Please click this link to read the court opinion in Bell v. State.