An attorney has an ethical duty to investigate and present a defense.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

Failure to Present a Defense is Reversible Error

The failure to investigate or present a defense is a major mistake criminal defense attorneys make with some regularity. A great criminal defense attorney will leave no stone unturned to ensure the client has every opportunity to face the prosecution’s charges with defenses. Top defense lawyers have experts to assist them with formulating defenses, such as private investigators, jury consultants, forensic experts, etc. When your freedom or livelihood is at stake, you do not want to trust your future to just “some” attorney, a “low-cost” lawyer, or an attorney who does not specialize in cases like yours. You want the best legal help available at a fair and affordable rate.

In People v Carol Sue Kusk, a recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals, the court determined that defense counsel’s failure to request a self-defense instruction was not part of the trial strategy. The attorney’s actions fell below an objectively reasonable standard of performance. The case involved a credibility contest between the defendant and the victim. Defense counsel not seeking a jury instruction to allow for a finding of self-defense was ineffective assistance of counsel. This is especially true when there was a reasonable probability that the case’s outcome would have been different with that instruction.

This was a significant mistake by defense counsel in the Kusk case. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the conviction in an extraordinarily rare move.

Sometimes, You Do Not Get a Second Bite at the Apple

To begin with, the Kusk case should have been done correctly and not have to rely on a higher court to correct counsel’s error. You can expect a case to be handled correctly, from start to finish, when you retain the services of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. The phrase “a second bite at the apple” refers to a second chance or opportunity to achieve something or correct a mistake. In criminal law, it’s often a reference to appealing a conviction or seeking post-conviction relief. While every criminal defendant has certain rights, including the right to appeal in many situations, it’s not always advisable to count on a second opportunity for several reasons:

Limited Grounds for Appeal: Appeals are not second trials. Instead, they are reviews of potential legal errors made during the original trial. You can’t raise new evidence in an appeal or argue that the jury got it wrong (except in limited circumstances). The grounds for appeal are often limited to procedural mistakes, evidentiary errors, or other legal issues.

No Guarantee of Success: Just because a defendant can file an appeal does not mean it will be successful. In fact, many appeals are denied. The higher courts give a lot of deference to the trial court’s findings and decisions, only overturning them when there’s a clear error that affects the outcome of the case.

Time and Expense: Appeals can take a long time, often years. Moreover, they can be expensive, requiring specialized appellate attorneys, transcript fees, and other costs.

Emotional Toll: Going through an appeal can be emotionally draining for defendants and their families. It prolongs the uncertainty of the situation and can be a source of continuous stress.

Double Jeopardy: In the U.S., the Double Jeopardy Clause prevents someone from being tried twice for the same crime after an acquittal. However, it doesn’t prevent the state from retrying someone after a successful appeal that results in the overturning of a conviction. So, if you appeal and win, you could potentially be retried and face the same or even worse penalties.

Collateral Consequences: Even if an appeal is successful, there can be other consequences from the initial conviction. For instance, it might affect employment, relationships, or reputation, and these effects might not be undone even if the conviction is later overturned.

Attorney - Michigan - Awards

Every Defendant Deserves a Lawyer Who Fights to Protect and Defend Them

Every possible defense should be employed to ensure you receive the maximum protection under the law. Ineffective assistance of counsel are words that no defense attorney wants to hear, but some care more than others. If an attorney does their job to the best of their ability, generally, that will suffice and be “good enough.” LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is not satisfied with just being “good enough.” The firm’s Defense Team prides itself on consistently being outstanding and obtaining extraordinary results. We consistently get referrals from former clients, local lawyers, circuit and district court judges, and level police officers when their family members need help. No client of our firm will ever be concerned about a failure to investigate or zealously present their defense.

Possible Consequences of Failing to Investigate or Present a Robust Defense

A defense attorney’s failure to thoroughly investigate or present a compelling defense can gravely jeopardize the course of justice and the fate of the accused. One immediate consequence could be the wrongful conviction of an innocent individual, stemming from a jury or judge making decisions based on partial or misleading information. Even for the guilty, inadequate representation might result in disproportionately harsh sentences due to the absence of mitigating evidence. Additionally, such lapses in legal defense erode public confidence in the judicial system, as the public expects every individual, regardless of their alleged crime, to receive a rigorous defense.

On the attorney’s side, this failure to investigate or present a defense can result in legal malpractice claims or claims of “ineffective assistance of counsel,” potentially leading to the conviction being overturned. Professionally, lawyers risk disciplinary actions, ranging from fines and mandatory retraining to the severe consequence of disbarment. Moreover, the financial burden on the justice system increases when retrials or post-conviction proceedings are necessitated by insufficient representation. On a personal level, the defendant might grapple with feelings of betrayal, despair, and heightened anxiety, while victims might endure prolonged trauma due to extended legal processes.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Defense Lawyers Who Will Thoroughly Investigate and Present Your Defense!

LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has award-winning attorneys who take their role in representing criminal defendants extremely seriously. The firm’s attorneys have spent their entire legal careers doing nothing but tenaciously fighting to protect and defend clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges at the state, local, and federal levels. We take pride in our outstanding reputation in federal and state court for providing the highest possible level of criminal defense representation. Don’t get sold out by the lowest bidder when the stakes are so high! You cannot afford to have a lawyer who fails to investigate or adequately present your defense. You deserve attorneys who will do whatever it takes and be loyal to you no matter what. Call us for a free consultation and confidential case evaluation. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and work with you to develop a winning strategy.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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