If you lost a trial and feel that your attorney did not do an appropriate job of defending you, you may be able to file an appeal due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
As part of your right to have a fair trial, the actions of your lawyer play a role, whether the ineffective actions were due to malice or incompetence. However, you must be able to meet certain requirements to prove ineffectiveness.
Sixth Amendment rights
According to the Legal Information Institute, the Six Amendment outlines the rights of defendants in a criminal trial. These include an impartial jury, a public trial and legal assistance, even if you are unable to pay. The Supreme Court has established that effective counsel is also a right. This right only applies to felony cases, however, and not misdemeanor or civil cases.
How to prove ineffective assistance of counsel
According to Columbia University’s Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, you will have a better chance during your appeal process if you can provide specific reasons for your attorney’s poor performance during your original trial. You need to be able to establish two requirements: Your lawyer performed unreasonably and that the improper counsel affected the final judgment.
Some of the claims that have been successful in the past include that counsel had a conflict of interest, failed to investigate, did not properly select a jury, did not advise about a plea and did not use proper evidence at the trial. Some examples of specifics you can give as evidence include that your attorney did not:
- Interview or present supporting witnesses
- Follow ethical requirements
- Seek testing, such as DNA
- Provide objections to incorrect statements made by the prosecution
During an appeal, the burden of proof to provide evidence is on you. Although it is important to submit specific examples of improper counsel, it is trickier to prove how these actions affected the outcome of the case.