Can cutting somebody’s arm or thumb possibly be successfully trumped up to 2 counts of attempted murder?

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Can cutting somebody’s arm or thumb possibly be successfully trumped up to 2 counts of attempted murder?

A friend of mine was jumped by 2 guys when leaving a party. He was badly injured and knocked unconscious. He had been drinking, was obviously not thinking clearly, and when he came to he got the closest thing out of his toolbox, a corn knife, went back inside and cut one of the guy’s arms and another person’s thumb badly. The DA said that if he didn’t plea to 19 years each, a total of 38 years, he would face 2 counts of attempted murder for up to 96 years in prison. He was frightened into taking the plea and has been in prison for over 9 years. What can be done to help him get out?

Asked on December 20, 2010 under Criminal Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The issue isn't what the injury was--e.g. that it was a cut on thumb or arm. The issue is that your friend attacked two people with a deadly weapon, and he did so deliberately and intentionally: he pulled out a knife and went back inside looking for them. That's what could easily make it attempted murder--and if he'd happened to have slashed a throat or femoral artery, he'd be looking at murder charges.

It's difficult to undo a plea once given. It's almost impossible after this length of time has gone by. Being "frightened" into usually isn't enough--jail time is meant to be scary--as long as the authorities didn't lie, didn't use illegally obtained evidence, didn't deny him an attorney, etc. If your friend believes he was denied some basic rights, such as to counsel, or that he was not advised of his right to remain silent, or the evidence was tainted somehow, or the prosecutor lied to him, he should retain a criminal defense attorney to review his situation and determine if there are grounds for an appeal. If he can't afford one, he may be able to get a free attorney, such as through legal aid.


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