Hill v. Lockhart
Annotate this Case
474 U.S. 52 (1985)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52 (1985)
Hill v. Lockhart
Argued October 7, 1985
Decided November 18, 1985
474 U.S. 52
Pursuant to a plea-bargaining agreement, petitioner pleaded guilty in an Arkansas court to charges of first-degree murder and theft of property, and the court accepted the plea, sentencing him, in accordance with the State's recommendations, to concurrent sentences of 35 years for the murder and 10 years for the theft. Petitioner later filed a federal habeas corpus petition alleging, inter alia, that his guilty plea was involuntary by reason of ineffective assistance of counsel because his court-appointed attorney had misinformed him that, if he pleaded guilty he would become eligible for parole after serving one-third of his prison sentence, whereas, under Arkansas law, petitioner, as a "second offender," was required to serve one-half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The District Court denied habeas relief without a hearing, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: The District Court did not err in declining to hold a hearing on petitioner's claim. 474 U. S. 56-60.
(a) Where a defendant enters a guilty plea upon counsel's advice, the voluntariness of the plea depends on whether the advice was within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases. The two-part standard adopted in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668, for evaluating claims of ineffective assistance of counsel -- requiring that the defendant show that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different -- applies to guilty plea challenges based on ineffective assistance of counsel. In order to satisfy the second, or "prejudice," requirement, the defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty, and would have insisted on going to trial. Pp. 474 U. S. 56-60.
(b) In the present case, it is unnecessary to determine whether there may be circumstances under which erroneous advice by counsel as to parole eligibility may be deemed constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel, because petitioner's allegations were insufficient to satisfy the "prejudice" requirement. He did not allege in his habeas petition that, had counsel correctly informed him about his parole eligibility date,
he would have pleaded not guilty and insisted on going to trial. Nor did he allege any special circumstances that might support the conclusion that he placed particular emphasis on his parole eligibility in deciding whether to plead guilty. P. 474 U. S. 60.
764 F.2d 1279, affirmed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which STEVENS, J., joined, post, p. 474 U. S. 60.