It’s a nightmare scenario: you are going about your day, hanging out at a local park when the police see and apprehend you. They say you fit the description of someone who committed a crime, and you’ve been brought to the county jail for intake.
Although presumed innocent until guilty, your public defender seems distant and uninterested in making a strong argument for your innocence during your hearing. In fact, they inform you that the charges against you are serious and that you are at risk of serving a long sentence in jail. Due to this risk and a supposed lack of evidence proving otherwise, they recommend you plead guilty as a way to negotiate a shorter term.
Violation of fiduciary duty could be legal malpractice
Public defenders, like all attorneys, have a fiduciary duty, which means they are legally obligated to act in their clients’ best interests. They took an oath to represent clients who cannot afford their own legal representation, and they have a legal and moral responsibility to act with integrity.
Perhaps they made assumptions about your guilt instead of taking your word for it, or they felt there was insufficient evidence to prove your innocence. They could even have personal things going on in their life that prevented them from doing the necessary work to establish your case. No matter the reason, if your attorney did not uphold their fiduciary duty to you in court, you may have grounds to pursue a case of legal malpractice.
In addition to pursuing compensation for damages due to legal malpractice, you may also want to pursue an appeal for your criminal conviction. Discussing your rights and options with someone familiar with malpractice law can help you clear your name and ensure your freedom.