When someone faces accusations of criminal activity, they have the right to defend themselves. In theory, criminal defense attorneys should put their full effort into every case, advocating for their clients.
Unfortunately, defense attorneys often have more work than time. That can mean that their clients don’t receive the representation they need.
Overworked lawyers can’t do proper research or preparation for court
One of the job responsibilities that makes legal work so demanding is the obligation to understand not only code or law but also legal precedents or court rulings in similar cases. The more unique the circumstances of the case are, the more important adequate research becomes.
Unfortunately, lawyers may take on too many cases and then divide their attention among them. They may not know what they should to properly defend someone or might overlook something that could have changed the outcome of the case.
Given that the average lawyer finishes law school with $145,500 in student loan debt, attorneys face a lot of financial pressure. Taking on many clients and cases may mean more billable hours, but it can also compromise the quality of representation each client receives.
Inadequate representation could be a form of legal malpractice
Lawyers defending someone against criminal charges who don’t know the specific law allegedly broken, haven’t researched precedents and aren’t prepared for court may not do an adequate job defending that person.
If you believe that a different attorney could have secured a better outcome and that your lawyer’s lack of preparation or heavy caseload affected your representation, you may have a claim for legal malpractice. Such a claim might entitle you to financial compensation from the lawyer and possibly even give you grounds to appeal your conviction.