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Defense Attorney Must Advise Defendant of All Plea Offers

20
Oct
2010

by in Criminal Appeals, Criminal Defense

State v. Kalee Coleman, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-3049-08T4 (July 14, 2010) – Denial of PCR affirmed in part, reversed in part, case remanded for evidentiary hearing. “[D]efendant contends that although there were plea negotiations between his attorney and the prosecutor, his attorney never informed him of any plea offers made by the prosecutor. The State counters that defendant failed to present any credible evidence that a plea offer had been extended to his counsel by the prosecutor…. However, while the State is correct that defendant failed to proffer any evidence that a plea agreement had not been communicated to him by his counsel, whether such a plea offer was actually made by the prosecutor to defense counsel is unclear. The trial court found that no offer had been extended by the prosecutor. That finding is clouded by the State’s PCR brief where the State asserted [that] ‘There were significant plea negotiations that took place prior to trial.’ From these statements, it is unclear whether a plea offer had been extended or whether the attorneys merely engaged in negotiations for a potential agreement. The issue of whether a plea offer had been extended by the prosecutor but not communicated to defendant by his attorney needs to be fleshed out by an evidentiary hearing with both defense counsel and the prosecutor testifying on the issue. Absent that fact-finding hearing, a fair determination cannot be made on the merits of the claim.”

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