Court Must Advise Of Post Release Supervision Or Reversal Is Warranted

Court Must Advise Of Post Release Supervision Or Reversal Is Warranted

People v. McAlpin  2011 Slip Op 08456

Decided November 22, 2011 New York Court of Appeals 

Issue: Whether the trial court’s failure to mention the potential imposition of post-release supervision at sentencing required reversal and vacatur of the plea.

Holding: Where the trial court only referenced the prison term and omitted any mention of the possibility of post-release supervision, this gave the defendant an inaccurate impression concerning the court’s sentencing options and reversal and vacatur of the plea was appropriate.

Facts: Defendant pleaded guilty to robbery in the second degree with the understanding that he would be adjudicated a youthful offender and receive a term of probation if he satisfied specified conditions.

At the plea proceeding, Supreme Court further advised defendant that, if he violated the terms of the youthful offender agreement, the sentencing agreement would be vacated and the court could impose a prison sentence of at least three and one-half years, with a potential maximum sentence of fifteen years.

Defendant violated several terms of the youthful offender agreement and, at the subsequent sentencing proceeding, the court imposed a determinate prison sentence of three and one-half years plus five years of post-release supervision.

Legal Analysis: On appeal, defendant contended that reversal was required under People v Catu (4 NY3d 242 [2005]) because,  the court failed to reference the potential imposition of post-release supervision.  Having elected to advise defendant of the consequences that might flow from the violation of the youthful offender agreement, the court referenced only a prison term, omitting any mention of the possibility of post-release supervision, thereby giving defendant an inaccurate impression concerning the court’s sentencing options.

Accordingly, we conclude that reversal and vacatur of the plea was appropriate. Here, in contrast, the court first mentioned post-release supervision only moments before imposing the sentence. We are also unconvinced that the court’s brief remark at sentencing to the effect that it had previously advised defendant that he would receive a sentence of three and one-half years and five years post-release supervision if he violated the agreement, which defense counsel acknowledged, conclusively established that the court had advised defendant of the potential post-release supervision sentence prior to accepting the plea.