Those arrested for allegedly breaking the law have the right to an attorney to represent them. This is one of the most important rights of those accused of a crime because the legal system is very hard to navigate without professional help.
Unfortunately, not all attorneys offer the same level of service or professional aptitude. Additionally, even the most competent attorney can sometimes neglect specific clients or cases. There are other instances in which you might pay an attorney that never takes an active interest in your case or have a public defender assigned to you that was too overworked to represent you adequately in court.
If a judge or jury convicts you after having an attorney do a poor job representing you, then that could be valid grounds for filing an appeal.
What constitutes inadequate representation?
Lawyers should know the area of law in which they intend to represent someone. They should also familiarize themselves with precedent and the details of their client’s issues.
An attorney should know the necessary filings deadlines and always appear when ordered to be in court. They should help counsel their clients about the best way to respond to pending charges and adequately represent their interests in courts.
Examples of inadequate representation might include:
- forgetting to show up at a hearing
- failing to file paperwork
- making significant mistakes in the interpretation of statutes
- overlooking precedent or laws that could help your case
- preventing you from testifying
- failing to introduce evidence
- choosing not to challenge evidence when there are grounds to do so
Other situations might also constitute inadequate representation. The standard for such claims usually depends on whether another professional would have handled the matter differently or when there is an obvious and egregious oversight in their professional knowledge or representational responsibilities.
If you truly believe that inadequate representation was a crucial element in your conviction, then you may have grounds to appeal your case. An attorney can provide you with guidance on the next steps you’ll need to take to file an appeal and advise you on what to expect to happen from then on.