Michael Lee Robinson v. State (No. 2015-001773)
In this PCR case, Robinson was charged with criminal sexual conduct for acts that took place between 1998 and 2000. At the time the alleged acts occurred, criminal sexual conduct with a minor carried a sentencing range of 0-30 years. Subsequently, the statute was amended to increase the sentencing range to 25-Life. During their plea negotiations, the solicitor “agreed to let [Robinson] be sentenced the old version of the law.” Despite Robinson’s outright denial of the allegations, at the advice of his attorney, he took the deal. Robinson mistakenly believed (based on his attorney’s advice) that he was potentially subject to the 25-Life sentencing range, and that the offer to “let” him plead into the 0-30 sentencing range was a benefit to him. Obviously, the increased sentencing range was not applicable under any circumstances, and thus Robinson received no benefit at all from the solicitor’s “offer.” The SC Supreme Court reverses Robinson’s denial of PCR below, holding that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to recognize that the constitutional prohibition on ex post facto laws rendered the increased sentencing range inapplicable in Robinson’s case.