As highly qualified Michigan criminal appeal attorneys, we are occasionally asked by defendants whether they can appeal a conviction based on the fact the defendant felt his or her defense lawyer was ineffective or incompetent. There are occasions on which a defendant may feel that had his or her attorney provided quality legal representation, the defendant would not have been found guilty.
The truth of the matter is that appealing solely on the grounds of ineffective counsel is extremely difficult. However, this is not to say an appeal cannot be won, particularly if you have a skilled and experienced lawyer on your side who has successfully represented many clients when appealing a conviction or sentence.
Why is it so hard to appeal a conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel in the state of Michigan? Here is what you must prove in order to establish a claim:
Your attorney did such a poor job of representing you at trial that a conviction by the judge or jury was nearly a guarantee.
The representation provided by your attorney fell below an objective standard of reasonableness (below what are considered “normal” standards for law professionals).
Unfortunately, when a defendant desires to appeal on grounds that his or her attorney failed to introduce evidence or call an expert witness, or failed to object to testimony or interview a witness who may have shed new light on the case, the courts often turn a deaf ear. Basically, unless your attorney did absolutely nothing else other than show up for the trial, it isn’t likely the court will delve into your complaints.
Michigan courts are not concerned about how well your attorney represented you in court; what they are concerned about is whether you may have been denied a fair trial. Therefore, the courts will not review how your lawyer presented your case overall, but perhaps any serious errors which may have resulted in an unfair trial.
Certainly when you are the defendant, there are many aspects of a trial that seem unfair – especially when you are innocent. Regardless of your innocence or guilt, whether you desire to appeal your conviction because of ineffective assistance of counsel or on other grounds, it is critical to have a capable and aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side.