Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to an attorney for anyone charged with a crime. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that this includes the right to have an effective attorney. Through a writ of habeas corpus, courts can reverse a final conviction if a trial or appellate counsel was ineffective. However, while these claims are one of the most commonly brought post-conviction issues, there is widespread misunderstanding about how to successfully bring an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
At the Los Angeles law firm of Power Trial Lawyers, we specialize in obtaining appellate and post-conviction relief for men and women convicted of serious crimes. Attorney Matthew Barhoma is a respected criminal appeals lawyer who not only cares deeply about each of his clients but also has the knowledge, dedication, and litigation experience necessary to help bring injustices to light.What Is Ineffective Assistance of Counsel?
Ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) is a legal claim, most often raised in a petition for writ of habeas corpus, that seeks relief due to another lawyer’s constitutionally deficient representation. An ineffective assistance of counsel claim may result in the court granting a wide range of relief, up to and including reversing a conviction or a sentence.How Do You Prove Ineffective Assistance of Counsel?
The United States Supreme Court has long held that “the right to counsel is the right to the effective assistance of counsel.” However, it was not until United States Supreme Court issued its holding on the landmark case Strickland v. Washington that courts had a way to assess the adequacy of a lawyer’s representation. In Strickland, the court explained that proving an ineffective assistance of counsel claim requires an inmate to prove two elements: deficient performance and prejudice. In other words, you must not only prove that counsel’s representation fell below an "objective standard of reasonableness" but also that there is a reasonable probability that but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different."Common Types of IAC Claims
A lawyer’s incompetence during any phase of a case may form the basis of an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Some of the most common types of ineffective assistance of counsel claims involve:
- Failure to conduct an adequate investigation;
- Failure to file or litigate pre-trial motions;
- Failure to object to the introduction of inadmissible evidence;
- Failure to preserve issues for appeal;
- Failure to convey or properly advise a defendant about a plea agreement; and
- Failure to present mitigating evidence at sentencing.
Generally, courts prefer to address issues related to counsel’s potential ineffectiveness on collateral review (habeas corpus) rather than on direct appeal. The reason for this is that most ineffective assistance of counsel claims require the presentation of additional evidence, and on direct appeal, courts are precluded from considering evidence that is not contained in the trial record. Thus, while it is possible to bring an IAC claim on direct appeal in certain limited situations, these claims are typically raised through a petition for writ of habeas corpus.Was Your Trial Lawyer Ineffective?
If you were convicted of a serious crime in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California and believe your trial lawyer’s mistakes contributed to you being convicted, reach out to Power Trial Lawyers to learn more about bringing an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. At Power Trial Lawyers, our aggressive and strategic approach to habeas corpus litigation has secured the release of many clients. We take a comprehensive approach to every case we handle, putting in as much time as necessary to present the most compelling petition possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Barhoma today, call 213-800-7664. You can also reach us through our online contact form.