Clearly Defendants can sign plea agreements even when innocent. But based on the new Florida Bar Ethics Committee draft opinion plea agreements that impede a Defendant's right to attack the plea based on ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct will no longer be binding. Florida appeals courts will need to determine if Defendants should be allowed to abrogate signed agreements which contain the offensive ethical provisions. Possibly so, as the Florida Bar decision would suggest that any attorney who allowed his client to sign such an agreement has committed an unethical act, an act which would appear at first blush to be a fine example of ineffective assistance of counsel. On an even broader scale every Tampa Federal Criminal Lawyer knows that signing a plea agreement in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa entails a suspect waiver of appeal provision, one that the Florida Bar finds deplorable.
Here is the portion of the Florida Bar Ethics Committee First Draft as to the ethical responsibilities of Defense Attorneys and Prosecutors:
|Vermeer, A Florida Plea Agreement?, 1670|
Regarding the prosecutor’s conduct in offering the plea agreement, the committee agrees with those states that find that the conduct is impermissible as both prejudicial to the administration of justice and assisting the criminal defense lawyer in violating the Rules of Professional Conduct under Rule 4-8.4(d) and 4-8.4(a), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The Committee believes that the vast majority of prosecutors act in good faith and would not intentionally commit misconduct. However, some prosecutorial misconduct can occur unintentionally and, in the rare instance, even intentionally. Prosecutorial misconduct may be known only to the prosecutor in question, e.g., when the prosecutor has failed to disclose exculpatory information. The Committee’s opinion is that it is prejudicial to the administration of justice for a prosecutor to require the criminal defendant to waive claims of prosecutorial misconduct when the prosecutor is in the best position, and indeed may be the only person, to be aware that misconduct has taken place."
All of this means that Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers must be vigilant to defend the rights of clients even in plea agreements that were thought to be appropriate because they'd been accepted by the Florida legal system in practice, usage and functionality even while being unethical.