The Costly Consequences of Ineffective Representation
If you’ve been charged with a crime, the consequences can be great. Even if you just get probation, you will still have a criminal record that can haunt you for the rest of your life. If you face imprisonment, years can be robbed from your life, and when you get out, you can face huge hurdles in getting your life back on track.
The 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees anyone accused of a crime a speedy public trial before a jury of one’s peers. It also promises “the assistance of counsel” for your defense if you cannot afford a defense attorney of your own. But the question is, how effective are these public defenders? The answer is that you definitely take your chances when you rely on public defenders.
If you are under investigation or facing criminal charges in or around Tulsa, Oklahoma, contact me at the Military Law Group. I have extensive criminal defense experience and will mount a vigorous defense aimed at the best possible outcome. I also proudly serve clients throughout all Oklahoma.
What Constitutes Ineffective Representation?
Westlaw is a prestigious legal reference company that conducted a study of clients who claimed that ineffective representation in court cost them convictions they could have avoided. Westlaw tracked 255 cases relying on public defenders involving DNA samples. Of the 255, 54 clients filed appeals, but only seven of those clients’ cases were overturned or ordered to be retried.
The types of ineffective representation alleged included:
Failure to present defense witnesses
Failure to object to the prosecutors’ arguments or statements
Failure to object to evidence or to suppress evidence
Failure to interview/cross-examine witnesses
Half of the 54 appeals, exactly 27, cited multiple failures.
Private Attorney vs. Public Defender
As you can see from the above list, your rights to a fair trial can be jeopardized if your attorney or public defender fails to use every legal tactic available to cast doubt on the evidence being submitted or to make a strong case in your defense.
A public defender, no matter how well educated or well-intentioned, is often burdened with a huge caseload, representing several clients at the same time. This leaves that person with little wiggle room to devote the time and resources necessary to develop a strong case for you. You may rarely even hear from them before the trial begins.
And speaking of resources, a public defender rarely has investigators or researchers standing by to dig into the details of your case or even into prior case history for similar crimes.
A public defender will often wait until matters actually go to court and then accept the first plea bargain offered. In contrast, a private attorney will begin working with prosecutors before a trial begins to present your side of the alleged crime and work toward either getting a more favorable plea bargain, getting the charge reduced, or perhaps even getting the charge dropped altogether.
Some public defenders have more experience than others, but generally, they hone their legal teeth on representing DUI clients. If you’re charged with something more serious, the public defender assigned to you may have no experience in defending that type of crime.
Qualities of a Good Defense Attorney
A good defense attorney will not only have knowledge and experience in defending the crime for which you are being accused, but they will also have resources – staff in their office and outside investigators – who can help develop a solid strategy and defense. And a good defense attorney will meet with you regularly, keep you in the loop and advise you of every step they are planning to take in your defense.
A good defense attorney will also have developed contacts within the District Attorney’s office and will know how judges proceed in the courtroom. This familiarity can help in presenting your side of the story to prosecutors before matters even get to court in hopes of lessening charges or even getting them dropped.
Turn to Knowledgeable Legal Counsel
If you are taken in for questioning or later charged with a crime, remember the words of the Miranda Warning: “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” In other words, silence truly is golden when it comes to matters of criminal justice.
Thus, it’s crucial from the beginning that you have counsel present when you’re being interrogated. Don’t wait until you’ve been charged to start the defense process. You may have already dug a hole for yourself through statements you made.
If you’re facing a charge in or around Tulsa, Oklahoma, contact me immediately at the Military Law Group. I have the extensive criminal defense experience, knowledge, and resources to aggressively represent you and defend all your rights under the law. Don't face these challenges alone; schedule a consultation today.