Navigating a criminal trial is extremely stressful, perhaps particularly if you have not committed the crime that you have been accused of. As a result of this reality, if you were wrongfully accused and tried, you may have been astounded if a guilty verdict was returned.
Unfortunately, wrongful convictions can and do occur. How does something like this happen? One of the more common reasons for wrongful convictions is ineffective assistance of counsel. This means that a trial lawyer performed in a manner that was unprofessional and below the expected standard employed broadly within the legal industry.
Outlined below are some examples of ineffective assistance of counsel. Although, this list is certainly not comprehensive.
Key decisions were made without you
Your lawyer is there to advise you and protect your rights. They have to keep you informed about any movements in your case. While your lawyer is supposed to guide you through the process, any major decisions are ultimately yours to make. For example, it is your choice to plead guilty or not guilty. If your lawyer made significant decisions without informing you, and these subsequently impacted your trial outcome, this could amount to ineffective assistance of counsel.
During your trial, your lawyer should have raised relevant legislation and/or cases that strengthened your defense. They should have also challenged the prosecution’s case with counter arguments and objections. If they raised incorrect legislation or irrelevant case law, or failed to make objections, then these insufficient approaches may potentially be characterized as ineffective assistance of counsel.
A criminal appeal cannot be raised merely on the basis that you disagree with the verdict, but it can be if ineffective assistance of counsel occurred at trial. Seek legal guidance to better ensure that your representation is effective in any potential appeal proceedings.