Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Proving that an attorney was ineffective

Citizens in Illinois and of the United States in general have the constitutional right to adequate legal representation in their defense to any allegations brought against them. This is true for both indigent people who rely on the services provided by public defenders as well as for people who are able to retain private lawyers.

Adequate representation does not suggest that the defense has to be perfect. When a defense attorney represents a person so poorly that the verdict is deemed to be unfair or unreliable, a court may throw out the guilty verdict and grant the defendant a new trial.

In order to prove that the person's lawyer was incompetent in his or her representation to such a degree that the verdict cannot be trusted, the defendant is required to prove two things. The defendant must first show that his or her lawyer's representation involved the commission of errors so egregious that they violated the client's right to adequate counsel. The defendant must then show that the incompetence of the lawyer's representation caused the defendant to not receive a fair trial.

Even though a defendant may not like the outcome that he or she received at trial, this does not necessarily entail that the lawyer's performance was inadequate. People who believe that their lawyers committed serious errors that prevented them from receiving fair trials may want to consult with a criminal law attorney. An attorney may review the transcripts and court file of the case in order to determine whether or not it appears that serious errors were made. If the lawyer determines that the outcome may have been different but for the negligent lawyer's representation, he or she may agree to help a defendant file an appeal of the verdict based on the violation of the Sixth Amendment right.

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