The Costly Consequences of Ineffective Representation
Dec. 7, 2022
Arrests for crimes in Tennessee exceeded 265,000 last year. There are nearly 19,000 attorneys licensed to practice in the state. Of course, not all those attorneys are criminal defense lawyers, but it gives you an idea of how many you have to choose from if you are arrested for a crime.
Some criminal defense attorneys are in private practice and others are public defenders. Where they work and how much you must pay to have them represent you does not guarantee effective or ineffective representation. You need to understand what to look for in a criminal defense attorney and what the consequences of not hiring the right one can cost you.
At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, we represent clients charged with crimes in Knoxville and Farragut, Tennessee, or in the surrounding areas, including Union County, Oak Ridge County, Maryville County, and more. When our team agrees to represent someone, we are all in with everything we have.
What Is Ineffective Representation in a Criminal Case?
Nearly every profession is guided by some standard of reasonableness. The professional should undertake certain activities in the course of their work that result in the best outcome possible for the person they are working for. Lawyers are guided by standards of practice and legal ethics. A failure of any of these can constitute ineffective representation.
Ineffective representation can arise from what lawyers don’t do as much as what they do. Failure to do the following are the hallmarks of ineffective counsel:
Failure to object to evidence and testimony proffered by the prosecution
Failure to fully investigate the allegations against you, to adequately prepare your defense
Failure to appeal a conviction when there are grounds to do so
Everyone charged with a crime, regardless of innocence, guilt, or extenuating circumstances, is entitled to the best defense possible.
In one real-world example of ineffective representation, a criminal defense lawyer decided to not have a DNA test done to eliminate his client as a perpetrator of a crime. The lawyer does not want to pay for the testing, knows that no testing done by the prosecution is conclusive, and questions whether the DNA evidence will be admissible. Moreover, the lawyer does not discuss any of this with the client, when it should ultimately be the client’s decision. In fact, the lawyer could have argued successfully for admission of the DNA evidence, especially when it might have provided the key evidence necessary for his client to prevail.
What Are the Consequences of Having Ineffective Representation?
Being convicted of a crime you have been wrongly accused of is the ultimate consequence of ineffective representation. There are many others as well, even if you bear some degree of guilt.
You can lose weeks, months, even years from your life while enduring the legal process and incarceration.
Penalties, including jail time, fines, restitution, probation, and other court-ordered punishment can be far longer, higher, and more extensive than necessary had charges been reduced or dropped all together.
The toll on your personal relationships can be devastating.
Once convicted of a crime, your life will never return to normal, even once you have completed all the penalties. You may never be employable in the job you had or want again, live where you want to live, or have the relationship you want to have with your children.
What Qualities Should I Look for to Find an Effective Criminal Defense Attorney?
Here are some of the qualities you should consider when looking for a defense attorney who will represent you effectively:
Look for a record of successful representation of previous clients. Don’t rely solely on what the attorney tells you. Some attorneys speak highly of themselves, even when their record does not. Most court records can be searched digitally by attorney. See how they have done with cases like yours. (However, note that a positive record does not ensure a positive outcome in your case. Every case is different).
Seek a private practice attorney if you can afford one. You should know that public defenders have the same education, passed the same bar exam, and are just as knowledgeable about the law as an private criminal defense attorney. The difference is resources and time. A private attorney can be more selective about their cases, more balanced in their caseload, and have more resources to devote to the expenses necessary to mount a formidable defense.
Find an attorney who talks to you honestly, takes the time to fully answer your questions and explain complex legal issues, and tells you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to. You should feel comfortable with your attorney and trust them. Don’t settle for one you don’t.
Make sure your attorney is allowing you to make all decisions about your defense. They can advise you, but all decisions are ultimately yours.
Work with an attorney with a good relationship with the prosecuting attorney and the court. There should be an element of respect for your attorney, even if the prosecution is adversarial by nature. Those relationships can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case.
Turn to Strong & Dependable Representation
Choosing a defense attorney to represent you is the most important decision you will make. The outcome of your case and, indeed, your entire future depends on how effective they are. At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, our team is dedicated to delivering the best representation for the best possible results.
Find out if Mr. Reed is the right lawyer for you. The consequences of hiring ineffective representation are far too steep, so reach out to the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed now.