Filing a Motion for an Ineffective Counsel in North Carolina

Everyone has a right to effective counsel or adequate legal representation. Unfortunately, some attorneys do not provide adequate representation for their clients. At Arnold Smith, PLLC, we often represent clients who terminate their relationship with their previous attorney because they did not provide satisfactory legal services. What happens when an attorney’s poor representation causes the defendant to lose at trial and become convicted of a crime?

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North Carolina law allows a defendant to file a motion when their attorney provided ineffective counsel. If you have been a defendant in a criminal trial in North Carolina, and you are concerned that your attorney did not provide adequate legal representation, you may have a valid legal claim to ineffective assistance of counsel. The right to effective counsel means the right to an effective criminal defense attorney.

At Arnold Smith, PLLC, we can review the facts of your case and go over your legal options. In certain cases, you may be able to file a motion for ineffective counsel and ask the court to grant you relief. Contact one of our Charlotte criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible to learn what options are available to you.

What Does Ineffective Counsel Mean?

Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to effective legal representation by their defense attorneys. Your attorney is legally required to be able to effectively apply North Carolina law to the facts of your case. Your attorney must be able to address issues as they come up in your criminal trial to protect your constitutional right to a fair trial.

Not all mistakes your attorney made during your criminal trial rise to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel. Defense attorneys have to make subjective judgment calls throughout the criminal trial process. Sometimes these calls do not work out in favor of the defendant, but not every poor decision constitutes ineffective counsel. However, when an attorney truly fails to represent your best interests, you may be entitled to another trial.

The Constitution Protects a Defendant’s Right to Effective Counsel

The Sixth Amendment protects the rights of criminal defendants. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that the defendant in criminal trials has the right to assistance of counsel. There are several overarching ways to prove ineffective assistance of counsel, to include:

  • Attorney Error Claims: The attorney handled the case improperly. For example, the attorney failed to object to evidence presented by the prosecution, the attorney failed to request a necessary jury instruction, or failed to call a witness who would benefit the defendant.
  • Denial of Counsel Claims: In this type of claim, the defendant claims that the court denied counsel at a critical stage of the criminal proceeding.
  • Conflict of Interest Claims: In this type of claim, the defendant alleges that counsel had a conflict of interest that prevented him or her from adequately representing the defendant.
  • A Harbison Claim: In this type of claim, the defendant alleges that the attorney admitted that the defendant was, in fact, guilty without the consent of the defendant.
Filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Defendants can raise the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel in a Motion for Appropriate Relief. The defendant can file the Motion for Appropriate Relief directly in the Court of Appeals. As the defendant, you can argue that your attorney failed to provide effective assistance of counsel. In many cases, the attorney failed to file a motion, make an objection, or take some other necessary action to preserve a winning issue for appellate review.

There are several important steps that an attorney can take when filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief. At Arnold Smith, PLLC, our legal team can help prepare and submit a Motion for Appropriate Relief. We can spell out the grounds for the relief and attach all necessary documentation. We can not only help file the motion but also defend your case in front of the court.

Contact Us Today

We believe that every client has the right to effective assistance of counsel. When defendants experience negative effects from a lack of effective counsel, we can help. If you have been convicted of a criminal offense and you believe that your criminal defense attorney did not provide effective representation, contact our law firm to schedule your initial consultation.

For your convenience and safety, we now offer phone and video conferencing. If you prefer an in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville. Contact us today at 704-370-2828 to learn how we can fight for you.