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Name: United States v. Erskine
Case #: 02-50030
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/21/2004
Subsequent History: None

Defendant’s waiver of counsel was not valid because the trial court failed to advise him correctly of possible penalties. Here, appellant waived his right to counsel and requested to represent himself in his trial for threatening to murder an FBI agent. During the Faretta hearing, the trial court improperly advised appellant that the maximum sentence he could receive would be one year, when, in fact, the maximum was five years. When it discovered the mistake, it did not ask appellant if he desired to withdraw his Faretta waiver or otherwise ascertain whether he understood what the maximum penalty was. It sentenced him to 27 months in prison. On appeal, appellant challenged the validity of his Faretta waiver, and the appellate court reversed. Appellant’s waiver of his right to counsel was invalid because the trial court failed to correctly advise him of the penalty he could receive, and the record does not show that he had an accurate understanding of the potential consequences when he waived his Sixth Amendment rights.