Ineffective assistance of counsel claims in criminal cases – In criminal matters, when a trial is over and a defendant is found guilty, the case might not be over at that point. This is because the defendant may choose to appeal. An appeal challenges legal errors that were made at the trial court level in an attempt to overturn the guilty verdict.
Criminal appeals focus on certain legal theories and strategies. One of those strategies for the defendant is to make a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. In this blog, we will talk a little bit about what that claim is and how it is used in a criminal appeal. Criminal appeals are very complicated and should not be attempted by someone who isn’t trained. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.
What is ineffective assistance of counsel?
In essence, an ineffective assistance of counsel claim is a claim that a particular constitutional violation has occurred. Effectively, the defendant is making a claim that his or her attorney performed so ineffectively that it functionally deprived them of their Sixth Amendment constitutional right to counsel.
What must be proven for an ineffective assistance of counsel claim?
Ineffective assistance of counsel is one of the most difficult claims to win on in a criminal appeal. It is not enough to make the claim that you lawyer could have done a better job at trial. The appellate court would have to be convinced that:
- The criminal defense lawyer in the defendant’s case was deficient in his representation; and
- If not for that deficient representation, the outcome of the defendant’s case would be different.
What happens if a defendant represents himself?
In a criminal case, anyone has the right to defend themselves. However, we never recommend (for several reasons.) On top of the fact that criminal representation takes expertise and knowledge that takes years to accumulate, the trial itself is not the only thing to consider.
If a defendant represents himself, he will not be able to succeed on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. This is because he had a right to an attorney and he chose not to assert that right. Remember, in a criminal case if someone cannot afford an attorney, they can get a court appointed one.
At Gilles Law, we handle criminal cases in North Carolina, criminal cases in South Carolina, and federal criminal cases. We handle everything from traffic infractions to murder cases. In addition, we handle criminal appeals. Contact us today for your criminal defense needs.