Whether someone faces state or federal charges, a conviction is likely the last thing they expect to endure if they choose to invest their time, energy and resources to fighting those charges at trial. However, even when there seems to be a straightforward defense strategy in place, the trial may not go the way a defendant expects.
One of many factors that influence the likelihood of a conviction is the quality of criminal representation that a defendant has retained. Unfortunately, not every defense attorney provides the same caliber of representation to clients, and many of them may make mistakes that negatively impact the outcome of the cases under their professional care. As a result, it is reasonable for a defendant to wonder whether an attorney’s mistakes during a criminal trial could potentially pave the way for an appeal.
Yes, ineffective assistance of counsel could warrant an appeal
The right to legal advice and representation during criminal proceedings is so important that those who do not receive adequate representation could be able to ask the courts to reconsider their case. Those hoping to pursue an appeal based on claims that their lawyer failed in some crucial way typically need evidence of their attorney’s shortcomings and a direct relationship between their failure and the negative outcome at trial.
There will need to be some kind of substantial deviation from best practices on the part of their lawyer. Examples of ineffective assistance of counsel include when an attorney fails to show up to court, when they show up under the influence of mind-altering substances, when they give advice directly contrary to the standard in the industry or when they don’t have basic knowledge, like awareness of state statutes and key cases establishing precedent, that would make a major difference in someone’s case.
Provided that those responding to criminal charges have evidence that their lawyer committed some kind of gross oversight, the failure of their attorney to offer a professional standard of representation could potentially help them qualify for an appeal. Oftentimes, initiating a conversation with another lawyer will be an important starting point for those who hope to turn the disappointment they feel about the representation they received into a successful effort on appeal.