Note, if you want to appeal your criminal case conviction or you believe your trial lawyer did not represent you properly, please contact us immediately to see if we can help appeal your case. As an appeals law firm, our job is to help you understand if your conviction can be appealed and to represent you during the complex appeals process.
What is Ineffective Assistance of Counsel?
Ineffective assistance of counsel is a legal term used to describe situations when an attorney’s performance falls below the standard of competence and professionalism expected of lawyers in criminal cases. In order to prove ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show that his or her lawyer’s performance was deficient and deprived them of their constitutional right to a fair trial. This means that you must demonstrate not only that your attorney made mistakes or failed to meet professional standards, but also that those mistakes or failures lead directly to negative outcomes in your case.
The History of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
In Strickland v. Washington, the United States Supreme Court established the legal standard for claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in criminal cases. The case involved a man named James Strickland who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the state of Florida. Strickland appealed his conviction, arguing that his defense attorney had provided ineffective assistance.
The Supreme Court ruled that to prove ineffective assistance of counsel, a person convicted of a crime must show that their attorney performed deficiently, meaning their performance fell below objective standards of adequacy. The defendant must also show due to the ineffectiveness of their attorney, the outcome of their trial was prejudiced or would have turned out differently. The Court explained that there is a strong presumption that an attorney’s performance falls within the range of reasonable professional assistance, and that it is up to the defendant to overcome this presumption by demonstrating that their attorney’s performance was deficient and prejudicial.
This standard has since been applied in many cases where defendants have claimed that they received ineffective assistance of counsel. To succeed on such a claim, a defendant must show that their attorney’s performance was not only deficient, but also had a negative impact on the outcome of the case.
Examples of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
There are many ways in which your trial attorney may have been ineffective at defending you. The examples provided below illustrate the failures and errors that your attorney might have made, and each example could provide grounds for appealing your conviction:
- Failing to investigate important facts or witnesses in the case
- Failing to challenge the admissibility of evidence
- Failing to prepare a defense strategy or call witnesses
- Failing to communicate with the defendant or keep them informed about the case
- Making errors during trial, such as misstatements of law or failure to object to improper statements or evidence
- Failing to advise the defendant about the consequences of accepting a plea bargain
Again, it is important to note that these examples are failures and errors that your trial lawyer may have made when representing you. Although many trial lawyers will provide excellent service and defend you admirably in court, lawyers are only human, and mistakes will be made from time to time. If mistakes like the ones above were made, you certainly have the right to appeal your case and receive a fair trial.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel and Whether To Appeal Your Case
If you believe you received “ineffective assistance of counsel” during your trial, it is essential to contact a well-trained and highly experienced appeals law firm like Elizabeth Franklin-Best. When it comes to appealing your case, a professional appellate lawyer can help you in a variety of ways:
- Evaluate your case: First, consult with a new attorney who is experienced in handling appeals based on ineffective assistance of counsel. They can evaluate your case and advise you on whether you have a valid claim for ineffective assistance of counsel.
- Gather evidence: To support your claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, you will need to gather evidence that shows your attorney’s performance fell below the standard of competence expected in criminal cases, and that it resulted in a negative impact on your case. This evidence may include your attorney’s work product, court transcripts, and witness statements.
- Prepare legal documents: To appeal your case will require following exact rules and procedures and supplying all the necessary documentation. An experienced appellate attorney will be able to prepare all of the necessary papers and documents and submit them in a timely manner to the correct court of appeals.
- File a motion for a new trial: Your attorney will file a motion for a new trial, which will argue that your trial lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel. The motion will include evidence to support this claim.
- Attend a hearing: The court will hold a hearing to consider your motion for a new trial. At the hearing, you and your attorney will present evidence to support your claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
- Decision: The court will decide whether to grant you a new trial, and your attorney will explain the outcomes to you. If the court grants your motion, you will receive a new trial with a new attorney. If the court denies the motion, you may still be able to appeal the decision once again – this time to an even higher court of appeals.
It is important to note that proving you were a victim of “ineffective assistance of counsel” can be very difficult, and not all claims are successful. It’s crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you on the likelihood of success.
How to Avoid Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
As a defendant who is being charged with a crime, there are steps you can take to avoid receiving ineffective assistance of counsel in the first place. One of the most important ways is to choose an attorney who is experienced and qualified to handle your type of criminal case. Make sure to research potential attorneys and ask for references before hiring someone.
Additionally, it is important to maintain open communication with your attorney throughout the case. Ask questions, provide information, and make sure you understand what is happening at each stage of the process. If you have concerns about your attorney’s performance, speak up and try to address them as soon as possible. Remember, you are a paying client of the trial attorney, and it is their responsibility to make sure you receive adequate and fair legal counsel and representation in court.
Final Thoughts About Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Ineffective assistance of counsel can have serious consequences for a defendant in a criminal case. If you believe that your attorney’s performance was deficient and prejudicial to your case, it is important to speak with a qualified appeals attorney to discuss your options and next steps. At Elizabeth Franklin-Best, we pride ourselves in helping individuals who have been convicted of a crime to understand their alternatives and also to represent them when appealing their case. Contact us if you would like to schedule an initial consultation on your case or conviction.
For more information, call us at (803) 445-1333 or send us an email to set up a consultation about your case.