Parkville, MD asked in Criminal Law for Maryland

Q: my defense lawyer deliberately lie and state that I shot someone when I did not

This was at sentencing to influence the judge for a plea deal the video doesn’t show a shooting

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: A lawyer would have to know a whole lot more about your case, the evidence against you, the terms of the plea deal, the full nature of all the charges and what charges are being dropped--and any agreed cap on potential sentence of incarceration-- which is part of the deal based on what you are pleading to, before an answer could be provided to you regarding whether the plea is a good one or not, or whether the agreed statement of facts supporting the plea should be rejected for some reason. Without knowing all of this, it is pure speculation. There are scenarios where the State has the evidence to potentially or even likely prove enough serious criminal counts, which carry such high prison time (multiple decades or even life), that it would be better to take a proferred deal to limited charges with a guaranteed cap on time you can be sentenced to, even if it means admitting a fact you don't agree with, simply because to reject the plea means you go to trial and get convicted on worse charges and get sentenced to way more time in jail. There are many cases where a defendant accepts a plea to a lesser limited charge and sentence to avoid the risk of a far worse result, even though they may claim they are innocent of the charge --or some factual aspect of the charge-- they are pleading guilty to. There are types of pleas that can take the defendant's claim of innocence into account, such as "nolo contendere" or "Alford" pleas, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but admits the state has enough evidence to prove the case at trial, so they take a plea that results in a conviction like any guilty plea, and they are found guilty and sentenced the same as any other defendant who is found guilty, but they maintain their innocence. However, a judge and the prosecutor must agree to allow the defendant to enter such a plea, and that is not always possible--in fact, it is not common. The "felony murder rule" may also be applicable to your case, whereby multiple defendants engaged in a felony are all deemed guilty of murder even though only one of the defendants shot the victim, and even though the non-shooting defendants didn't know the shooter had a gun at the time. If you think you are innocent of all charges, and don't want to admit to any criminal wrongdoing, then you need to have this discussion with your lawyer or seek other counsel. It sounds as though the plea has already happened, and it may be too late. Your window to file a motion to set aside and withdraw your plea is limited, and the basis for doing so is not easy to meet. You also must weigh the consequences if you succeed in withdrawing your plea: will you face a much worse result at trial? Nobody on this forum can answer those questions based on the facts in your post, and certainly not without a thorough review of the charges and all the evidence against you.

Scott Scherr agrees with this answer

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