One of your most basic rights as someone accused of a criminal offense is the right to defend yourself against those pending charges. Your criminal defense attorney is in a position of both trust and power.
You have to trust in their decision-making and intelligence to help get you out of this difficult situation. You are also dependent on them knowing not only the rules of court and the laws that apply in your case but also precedent in similar cases.
Your attorney will shape the strategy you use in court, and mistakes or misjudgments on their part could have a direct impact on your future. In situations where a lawyer fails to give good advice or perform necessary tasks as part of their work on your case, their ineffective counsel could provide grounds for an appeal.
What constitutes ineffective counsel?
Quite a few different behaviors can fall under the umbrella of the term ineffective counsel. Taking on a case in a specific area of law where the lawyer has no previous experience is one potential example that could involve ineffective counsel.
Taking another case when already dealing with too much work and forgetting critical dates or information about the case might be another example. Completely failing to fulfill obligations, like showing up to court or filing necessary paperwork, also constitute ineffective counsel. Finally, scenarios where you or your new lawyer can clearly show that a reasonable person with the same education would have acted differently can be grounds for a claim of ineffective counsel.
For example, if your attorney refused to let you take the stand to testify in your own defense but every other lawyer you consult with states that your testimony would have likely won the case, you may be able to point to that as a sign of ineffective counsel during your initial trial.
Don’t let one bad lawyer turn you off from getting help
People who wind up convicted due to ineffective counsel often feel like they can’t trust lawyers or possibly like their case is hopeless. There are good, bad and mediocre people in every profession.
The chances are good that you simply connected with the lawyer who couldn’t or wouldn’t uphold their obligations to you during your trial. Anything from their personal life to simple inexperience could explain why they handled your legal matter the way that they did.
Working with a different attorney who has more experience, a more appropriate background or a better overall record can help you right the wrong of your initial conviction. Appealing after a conviction because your lawyer failed in their duty to you can help repair the damage bad legal advice may have caused.