Specific Grounds on which to Appeal: Ineffective Assistance by CounselWhen one is considering whether or not to appeal – which means to challenge a court’s decision at a higher court level – one must have specific grounds to make the request for an appeal. Ineffective assistance by counsel is one of the specific grounds one can use when making an appeal in the State of California, regarding the outcome of a criminal case. What is “ineffective assistance by counsel?” It is legally defined as “the representation of a criminal defendant, at trial or on appeal, by a court-appointed lawyer or a retained lawyer, that involved errors that were so serious that they resulted in the denial of a fair trial.”

Signs of Ineffective Assistance by Counsel
Simply put, ineffective assistance by counsel means the defendant in a criminal court case basically lost that case because his or her attorney was incompetent, making a costly mistake or multiple mistakes. When one appeals a court’s decision in California based on the specific grounds of ineffective assistance by counsel and is successful, a judge could order a new trial. The following are signs of ineffective assistance by counsel to consider when contemplating if an appeal is appropriate. If any or several of these signs are true of a person’s case, he or she may have a valid claim for ineffective assistance of counsel.

  1. The criminal defense attorney made decisions without consulting his or her client. A good lawyer works on a defense strategy alongside the defendant and does not make important legal strategy decisions without discussing it with his or her client.
  2. The criminal defense lawyer filed late notices. Missing a deadline or deadlines in a criminal court case does not reflect highly of a defendant and his legal counsel. Timing is important.
  3. The criminal defense attorney did not behave professionally. If a lawyer comes across unprofessional in the courtroom, that attorney could indirectly make his or her client look poorly before the jury and the judge.
  4. The criminal defense attorney ignores his or client. Communication between a lawyer and his or her client is necessary. He or she should get back to the defendant when he or she calls with questions.
  5. The criminal defense attorney makes a mistake regarding procedure and/or terminology. If one notices this happening, he or she should take note, because the jury and/or judge may think the attorney is incompetent and this could affect the case’s outcome.

You have a right to adequate representation
An incompetent criminal defense lawyer can so poorly represent a client in California or another state that an appeal on the specific grounds of ineffective assistance by counsel is appropriate. That negligent attorney’s representation could justify a higher court to throw out a guilty verdict in response to the appeal. Know it is your right to a fair trial, which includes representation by an effective lawyer, who is either court appointed or selected by you.