When you face criminal charges in New Mexico, your defense attorney may be the only thing standing between you and incarceration. The lawyer who handles your defense has a major influence on the outcome of your trial and your ability to protect yourself.
Most attorneys understand how important their job is and devote themselves to learning everything about a case so that they can advocate for their clients. Unfortunately, there are also attorneys who offer inadequate representation or provide bad legal advice.
Some individuals will even wind up convicted because of a mistake made by their defense attorneys. When a lawyer’s mistake directly influences the outcome of your trial, their failure could give you grounds for an appeal.
Inadequate legal counsel is a common cause of appeals
Attorneys have to know state law and precedent related to the accusations against their clients. Failing to adequately research an issue could mean giving a client bad advice.
On the other hand, a lawyer could also fail to take certain important steps in the courtroom that they cannot plan ahead of time, such as objecting to a poorly-worded statement by the prosecution that could lead to juror bias.
You should be able to trust in your attorney to represent you adequately. They should know the law, the precedent that applies and also the evidence the prosecutor wants to present against you. An attorney can use this information to limit what the courts hear to protect their client. Failing to aggressively and appropriately represent a client in court could lead to a conviction and possibly a harsh sentence.
What kinds of attorney mistakes lead to claims of inadequate counsel?
A simple typo in a court document or verbal misstep in court will typically not be enough to justify an appeal based on inadequate counsel. An attorney will have to fail in some provable, material manner. According to an analysis of inadequate council claims, there are certain attorney mistakes that seem to occur more commonly than others. These failures can have a direct impact on the success of a defense strategy.
Failing to present defense witnesses, to seek DNA or other chemical testing, to object to inappropriate prosecutor statements, to suppress/object to evidence, and to interview or cross-examine witnesses each played a role in about 10% of claims. Those with claims that fell into multiple categories represented another 27% of the claims.
Recognizing when your attorney’s failings are grounds for a criminal appeal can help you prove your innocence after an unfair conviction.