Many people plead guilty because they don’t like to take a risk when facing criminal charges. When you decided to fight your pending charges in South Dakota criminal court, you expected to win. Convinced of your own innocence and of your lawyer’s ability to exonerate you, you spent months preparing for court and thousands of dollars on legal representation.
Unfortunately, the outcome of your case was not what you expected. Instead of exoneration, you ended up convicted and facing penalties ranging from fines to incarceration. Whether you face impaired driving or assault charges, your conviction will mean a criminal record and a lifetime of limited opportunities.
If you believe that your attorney made mistakes while defending you, their inadequate assistance may give you grounds for an appeal.
When will an attorney’s mistakes lead to an appeal?
Both federal and South Dakota law protects your right to appeal an unfavorable outcome in criminal proceedings provided that you have grounds for the appeal. You either need to have proof that the courts made an error in judgment or that there was a violation of your rights, including your right to adequate legal counsel.
If your lawyer gave you bad advice because they had never handled a similar criminal case before, their lack of knowledge could have hurt you in court. If they did not disclose a serious conflict of interests, they may have guided you to make decisions that benefited them or other people more than yourself. If they have substance abuse issues, their impairments in court may have made you look bad.
Other examples of lawyers providing inadequate counsel include failing to show up to hearings, failing to challenge evidence or statements made by prosecutors and failing to present key evidence. An appeal could mean a new trial. If you convince the appellate courts that your lawyer’s mistakes or misconduct meant that you did not get a fair trial, you may have a second opportunity to defend yourself.
While you may be reticent to work with a criminal defense attorney again after one has failed you so seriously, getting the right support will be key to the success of your appeals process. Exploring what appeal options you have can help you continue fighting for yourself after a criminal conviction.