question.jpgIn Criminal Law

Do I have a right to effective assistance of counsel?

Yes. A defendant does have the right to effective assistance of counsel through the first appeal. Proving ineffective assistance of counsel, however, is rather difficult, and requires proving two elements:

1) That the lawyer’s performance was inadequate, considering all the circumstances, viewed as of the time of counsel’s conduct. Judicial scrutiny of counsel’s performance is highly deferential and indulges a strong presumption that counsel’s conduct was appropriate. Moreover, in cases where counsel does not perform a specific action, the defendant must show that it was unreasonable for the lawyer not to take that action and, if he or she had taken that action, there’s a reasonable probability that it would have actually been successful.

2) The lawyer’s incompetence must have actually affected the outcome of the case. In other words, was there a reasonable probability that but for counsel’s errors the outcome of the proceeding would have been different? To prove this element, the defendant must show that the counsel’s errors were so serious that the defendant was basically deprived of a fair trial - and errors by a lawyer, even if they are unreasonable, will not warrant setting aside the trial if the errors had no effect on the judgment.