What is the Right to Adequate Counsel?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Criminal Defense Attorneys Assisting with Adequate Counsel in New Mexico

Adequate CounselWhen you cannot afford an attorney, it is your right to have one appointed by the courts and paid for by the state. Even if you can afford to hire an attorney, you have the right to “adequate” counsel. However, what is an “adequate” amount of legal representation? When would the courts grant a change of lawyer, or declare attorney incompetence in an appeal?

Your Sixth Amendment Right

You are given plenty of rights during criminal proceedings; under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, you have the right to a fair trial. To have a fair trial, you must have adequate legal representation.

If your attorney is ineffective in your case, your Sixth Amendment rights might have been violated. A judge will analyze your case and determine if the attorney was ineffective. After all, a poor outcome does not mean that the defense attorney was inadequate.

What is Inadequate Representation?

For an attorney to be considered “inadequate,” he or she must exhibit conduct that is unacceptable compared to reasonable standards.

You must prove that you received inadequate counsel, which includes:

  • Proving a deficient performance. You must show that your attorney’s performance in your case was inadequate, including serious errors made during the defense or not providing counsel required by the Sixth Amendment.
  • Unfairly prejudiced the defense. In addition to inadequate representation, the defendant must be able to show that his or her lawyer’s errors were so serious that the prosecution was given an unfair lead in the case, and that the defendant did not have an even playing field.

Without proving both critical aspects, your conviction or sentencing cannot be determined to be the result of an inadequate process; therefore, you are likely to lose your appeal. Courts are bound by the presumption that an attorney’s conduct is within the reasonable professional assistance required. Therefore, if you cannot prove otherwise, your word is not enough for the court to determine that you had inadequate counsel.

What Are Examples of Inadequate Representation?

Some examples of an attorney who does not provide fair and adequate representation include:

  • No investigation of the case
  • Does not offer any supporting witnesses or perform cross-examination of the witnesses for the prosecution
  • Does not object to harmful evidence, statements, or arguments that are biased or should be objected to
  • Does not look for blood or DNA analysis when applicable
  • Does not file an appeal in a timely manner (or at all)
  • Does not look for any conflicts when representing your case, even though there may be an obvious conflict of interest

What Are Your Options? Speak with a Defense Attorney

If you feel that you received inadequate counsel, or if you would like to change attorneys mid-case, schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. We can help you determine if you have a valid appeal and can assist you with the attorney transition. Schedule your no-obligation consultation with our attorneys by calling 505-375-4661 or requesting more information online.