No one ever wants an incompetent or nefarious attorney representing them in a criminal case. The best solution to a criminal charge is to have a great lawyer who advocates for you professionally and effectively at trial. However, if you were convicted of a crime and it is directly due to your lawyer’s incompetence, it could result in a mistrial and give you grounds to defend yourself again.
Although a mistrial and retrial are not guarantees of a different outcome, they do represent a chance. Perhaps, with a better lawyer handling the evidence and legal strategy, you could get your conviction reversed.
The concept of legal malpractice is important here. Attorneys are held to a high professional standard. The legal bar associations are there in part to protect the public from having their rights, freedoms and interests jeopardized by incompetent legal counsel. When an attorney mishandles basic aspects of a client’s case, the bar association can prohibit the lawyer from practicing and can levy other disciplinary actions.
Attorney Michael Cheselka Jr. received suspension of his privilege of practice law and other disciplinary actions in Ohio for mishandling his clients’ criminal cases.
This lawyer was charged with numerous violations of legal standards in a string of cases between 2016-2017, including:
- Missing filing deadlines
- Making false statements under oath
- Delaying the filing of important documents
- Misleading clients
These are just a few obvious examples of malpractice, and there are many more examples out there. Although each attorney has some discretion in how they handle cases, there are basic bare minimum standards of professionalism attorneys are required to follow.
How your attorney’s incompetence could help you
Criminal courts generally don’t hear cases that have already been decided. One notable exception is instances of incompetent counsel. This means that, upon a showing that your attorney mishandled part of your case, and that this mishandling could have resulted in a negative outcome for you, you could possibly obtain a retrial.
With a retrial, you gain at least a chance to get a better outcome this time.
However, there are no guarantees at any stage in the process. The most important thing you can do is hire a great criminal defense lawyer, someone who knows the process and knows how to represent your interests.