Last week, a 31-year-old Waukegan man who has been incarcerated for the past decade was told by a Lake County judge that he will be able to get out of prison much sooner. The man was originally sentenced to serve 34 years in prison for murder. Now, he will only serve 17 years behind bars for a lesser charge.
Why has his prison sentence been reduced? According to the judge, the man received bad legal advice and law enforcement authorities made some crucial mistakes when handling the man’s criminal case.
The man was arrested in 2001 and police refused to let him speak with an attorney before questioning him. This was a serious violation of the man’s rights.
Then, while the man was serving a sentence in jail for a separate offense, his mother had visited him and he told his mother that he was guilty of committing murder. The man did not know that his mother was wearing a hidden recording device at the time. The man had been told by his mother that she was there because she was working with his attorney. However, the mother was actually sent by police to visit her son.
After this incident, the man’s attorney told him that pleading guilty to murder would be his best option since his mother had obtained and recorded a confession. The man said that his attorney told him the evidence would be admissible in court. However, a judge concluded last week that the man’s attorney may have been wrong. As a result, the man was able to plead guilty to a lesser charge, which also resulted in a shorter prison sentence.
As we have mentioned before on our Lake County criminal defense law blog, folks need to make sure their rights remain protected when they are accused of committing a criminal offense. They also need to make sure they choose an attorney who has experience handling similar criminal cases and complex legal issues.
Source: Chicago Daily Herald, “Bad legal advice gives Waukegan man shorter prison term,” Lee Filas, Dec. 18, 2012