There are few things in life more inherently frightening than facing serious criminal charges. The idea that you could lose your freedom or your reputation because of unfounded accusations may make you feel desperate to defend yourself.
The good news is that there are numerous protections in place for those accused of criminal acts. You have the right to an attorney and the right to mount a defense against those charges. Most defendants benefit from having a lawyer help them respond to their charges. The bad news is that in a minority of cases, the lawyer representing a criminal defendant makes such serious mistakes that they hurt their client’s case.
One example might include refusing to let you testify in your own defense. Did your lawyer prevent you from speaking at your own trial, which you believe resulted in your conviction?
Defendants have the right to testify
Every attorney representing a criminal defendant should help them make the best possible case in court. Sometimes, a criminal defendant has a compelling story that could help their case. Whether they want to share a story of spousal abuse to explain how a violent crime was really an act of self-defense or they want to share their personal history to be more sympathetic to the jury, a defendant may feel strongly that their story should play a role in their defense strategy.
Sometimes, attorneys will prevent clients from testifying, either by arguing with them in private or by misleading them about the actual strategy they intend to use. Courts across the country have frequently upheld the basic right of a defendant to testify in their own defense, which means you can take action over what you believe was a violation of that right.
Was your attorney’s mistake legal malpractice?
If your attorney did something that violated your rights or hurt your case, you may start to wonder if you have grounds for a legal malpractice claim. If you discuss the matter with other attorneys and they agree that having you testify would have been reasonable and would have favorably impacted the outcome of your trial, then your attorney’s behavior may have been malpractice.