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Examples of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel at Sentencing

Nearly every federal criminal defendant will be found guilty, whether pursuant to a plea agreement or a trial. As such, it is crucial that defense counsel prepare for and fully participate in sentencing proceedings. The process is not uncomplicated, and there are many ways in which an inexperienced and unprepared attorney can prejudice his or her client. When an attorney makes a mistake at sentencing, and that mistake harms the client, she may have provided ineffective assistance of counsel. There are many such examples of ineffective assistance of counsel in case law. Note that for purposes of prejudice, "any amount of actual jail time has Sixth Amendment significance." Glover v. United States, 531 U.S. 198, 203 (2001). Consider the following examples of ineffective assistance of counsel cases where counsel was ineffective in the sentencing context.

Examples of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Cases

  • Jansen v. United States, 369 F.3d 237 (3d Cir. 2004). Counsel was ineffective where he failed to object to use of the defendant's personal drugs in calculating his base level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

 

  • Johnson v. United States, 313 F.3d 815 (2d Cir. 2002). Counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the miscalculation of defendant's base level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.examples of ineffective assistance of counsel, sentencing

 

  • United States v. Manning, 452 Fed.Appx. 700 (8th Cir. 2012). Counsel was ineffective where he failed to object to a miscalculated Guidelines score.

 

  • United States v. Horey, 333 F.3d 1185 (10th Cir. 2003). Counsel's failure to object to an inapplicable career offender enhancement amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel.

 

  • Neary v. United States, 998 F.2d 563 (8th Cir. 1993). Counsel was ineffective where he advised defendant to waive the government's noncompliance with the §851 filing requirement for an enhancement. Sentence vacated.

 

  • United States v. Headley, 923 F.2d 1079 (3d Cir. 1991). Counsel was ineffective for failing to argue for a minor participant downward departure.

 

  • United States v. Baird, 218 F.3d 221 (3d Cir. 2000). Remand for IAC determination where counsel failed to object to the use of defendant's incriminating statements, which were immunized as part of a cooperation agreement.

 

  • West v. United States, 994 F.2d 510 (8th Cir. 1993). Remand for IAC determination where counsel failed to object to not receiving the presentence report at least ten days before sentencing, and also failed to object to errors in the report.

 

  • United States v. Conley, 349 F.3d 837 (5th Cir. 2003). Both trial and appellate counsel were ineffective where they failed to object to the defendant's sentence, which exceeded the statutory maximum.

A Cautionary Tale: Examples of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Tell a Story

For those on the receiving end of a federal sentence, there is no doubt that any amount of jail time is significant. Unfortunately, for some ill-prepared and inexperienced attorneys, it's not. Mistakes by counsel during sentencing proceedings are all too common, and federal defendants suffer the consequences. The above examples of ineffective assistance of counsel show this.

Experienced 2255 Attorneys Ready to Help

At the Law Offices of Brandon Sample, we are experienced in using section 2255 motions to correct errors that prejudiced defendants. If you believe that your Guidelines score was miscalculated, or that your sentence was improperly enhanced, contact us now. We'll let you know whether your attorney made a mistake, and what to do about it if he did.

Examples of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel at Sentencing FAQs

Q: My counsel failed to object to a totally botched Sentencing Guideline calculation. Can I file a section 2255 motion based on ineffective assistance of counsel?

A: Sentencing at the federal criminal level is complicated. The interplay between statutory law, Sentencing Guidelines, prosecution, probation office and judge can make an unprepared attorney's head spin. As such, it is not uncommon for a defense attorney to fail to object to an improper aspect of a sentence. The failure to object to errors made in the calculation of the Sentencing Guidelines is a common example of ineffective assistance of counsel in the section 2255 setting.

Q: I don't know a lot about the law. What are good examples of ineffective assistance of counsel?

A: Case law is replete with examples of ineffective assistance of counsel. Take a look at the above sentencing cases, or click on the links below to read examples of ineffective assistance of counsel at the pre-trial, trial, and appellate stages.

Q: My counsel failed to object to a career offender enhancement at sentencing. I'm not a career offender. Was counsel ineffective?

A: Sentencing enhancements, including Guidelines-based enhancements such as the career offender enhancement, are commonly pursued by the Government and the U.S. Probation Office. They are also heavily litigated, which has resulted in rules and judicial interpretations that vary from Circuit to Circuit, and sometimes tend to be all over the map. As such, inexperienced defense attorneys often fail to object to enhancements that arguably do not apply. If you were improperly enhanced, and your attorney did nothing to stop it, contact us today. Our experienced habeas corpus litigators are also criminal defense attorneys. We know when an attorney should have objected, and we can help you pursue relief when your attorney failed you.

Related Content

Cognizable Claims: Overview

Cognizable Claims: The Court Lacked Jurisdiction

Cognizable Claims: The Conviction or Sentence Violates the Constitution

Cognizable Claims: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: Pretrial

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: Trial

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: Appeal

Cognizable Claims: The Conviction or Sentence Violates Federal Law

Cognizable Claims: The Conviction or Sentence is Otherwise Subject to Collateral Attack

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