Criminal defendants who go to trial generally believe in their own innocence or that the state has misinterpreted the situation in some significant way. They rely on their lawyers to give them proper guidance and to help them secure the best outcome possible.
Sadly, for a small percentage of criminal defendants, something that their lawyer does not share with them could lead to an unfair outcome during their trial. Attorneys may not offer the best standard of representation to clients in certain situations. When attorneys fail to disclose conflicts of interest, their clients may eventually have grounds for an appeal.
What constitutes a conflict of interest?
There are many ways for a lawyer representing a criminal defendant to have a significant conflict of interest. One of the most obvious would be when they or someone close to them has a relationship with the victim of the crime or someone else impacted by the incident. Occasionally, someone with a history unrelated to a specific event could also have a conflict of interest. A defense attorney whose father died in a mugging gone wrong, for example, may not provide the most robust defense possible to someone accused of a mugging that led to physical violence.
Lawyers should disclose when their personal history, financial investments or relationships create a conflict of interest related to a client’s case. When they fail to disclose that information, they may do their clients a disservice and potentially pave the path to an appeal. Ultimately, noticing warning signs that a lawyer may have had an undisclosed conflict of interest can potentially help someone pursue post-conviction relief after a poor trial outcome in New York.