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When the death penalty was reinstated in New York in 1995, lawmakers included in the statute a little-discussed provision permitting life without parole. A number of attorneys, unaware that this penalty exists or thinking that it became a dead letter when the death penalty was voided, counsel clients to reject 18-to-life or 20-to-life plea offers on the theory that the most the client can get if convicted at trial is 25 to life, the maximum penalty for second-degree murder — only for the client to later learn that the attorney erred. The maximum was life without parole.

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