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Ineffective counsel as grounds for a criminal appeal

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Criminal Appeals

While criminal appeals are possible, the grounds for these types of appeal are limited. Generally, a legal error must have occurred. It is not enough for a convicted party to appeal simply on the basis that they do not agree with the verdict reached in the trial. 

One potential ground of criminal appeal is ineffective assistance of counsel. What are some potential examples of ineffective assistance of counsel? 

Reasonable standard within the profession 

Anyone in the legal profession is expected to perform to a reasonable standard. This involves a level of competency that does not disproportionately place a client at risk legally. If a lawyer’s performance prior to a trial and during proceedings falls below a reasonable standard, then this may amount to ineffective assistance of counsel. 

It’s important to note that this does not simply mean that a lawyer made a minor error, such as misquoting a case or choosing the wrong defense strategy. The conduct must fall outside of the expected standard within the profession. For example, if a lawyer performed poorly at trial, and it later turned out they had been drinking alcohol, this could amount to ineffective assistance of counsel. 

Prejudicial behavior 

A lawyer’s main job is to protect the best interests of their clients. They cannot let personal opinions of the client cloud their legal judgment. They must also not let factors outside of the details of the case impact their representation. For instance, if they have formed a negative impression of the client due to media coverage, and subsequently fail to file an effective motion on purpose, this may amount to ineffective assistance of counsel. 

If a prior representative acted in a way that falls out with the accepted standard in the legal profession, and you were convicted, you may be able to lodge a criminal appeal. To do so successfully, you will need to have as much accurate information behind you as possible.