When looking at your options for a post-conviction appeal, one element that may figure prominently in your odds is whether or not your attorney was effective. Should you believe your representative at trial did not perform up to the legal standard, you may have the right to appeal.
The U.S. Constitution sets a precedent regarding effective and competent representation in court. To have a chance at getting a new trial based on how your attorney represented you the first time, you will need evidence supporting the claim.
What can you use to prove ineffective counsel?
Before a court looks at your appeal, you need to show that the incompetent handling of your case led to your conviction. Once a judge accepts that, the court will often consider two legal standards when deciding ineffectiveness.
The first is whether your representative committed a legal error that led to your conviction. The second has to do with your representative’s prejudice and whether any kind of bias played a role during his or her representation of you.
How can you get proof?
Some of your representative’s mishandling may appear in the trial transcript. For instance, perhaps your counsel did not exercise the right to cross-examine witnesses appearing against you. In procedural matters, maybe your representative repeatedly missed deadlines to file motions, respond to discovery and send out requests. These may all add credence to your assertion that your representative violated the Sixth Amendment and failed to give you an adequate defense.
Should a court accept your appeal on these grounds, you may have the right to a new trial. This may give you a reprieve from serving your sentence and allow a new representative time to prepare a better defense.