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THE COSTLY CONSEQUENCES OF INEFFECTIVE REPRESENTATION

The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith March 23, 2022

A criminal charge can lead to serious consequences if you’re convicted. Not only are incarceration and fines possible, but even probation can change your life and severely limit your freedoms. On top of that, a criminal record can haunt you for the remainder of your life, making it difficult to land your dream job—or any meaningful job—and prevent you from obtaining public assistance, preferred housing, and more.

That’s why it’s important to rely on skilled legal counsel when fighting a charge against you. Public defenders, no matter how well educated or well intended, face heavy caseloads. If you rely on a public defender, you’ll most likely end up just being another number in a long line of cases to be tried. They may be hard-pressed to find the time to spend with you to develop a strong legal defense.

If you’re under investigation for a crime or facing a criminal charge in or around St. Louis, Missouri, contact me at The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith. I am devoted to criminal justice and will work with you closely to develop a strategy aimed at achieving the best possible result. I proudly serve clients not only in St. Louis, but also in St. Charles, East St. Louis, and throughout St. Louis and Jefferson counties.

Costly Consequences of Ineffective Representation

If you’re up against a criminal charge, your entire future is at stake. Even if you’re convicted and just get probation, the resulting criminal record can make life miserable for you going forward. Worse than that, you may also end up spending time in jail or prison.

You may be tempted to allow a public defender to represent you. Keep this in mind: public defenders are largely overworked and under-funded. While their intentions are good, they often lack the resources to do the investigative work necessary to help clear your name.

A study by Westlaw, a prestigious legal reference company, surveyed 255 cases involving DNA as evidence. Of those cases, 54 defendants filed appeals because of ineffective representation, and 81 percent of them were rejected. In only seven cases, the courts agreed that the representation had been inadequate and they reversed the convictions or ordered new trials.

The study found that the appeals involved claims of:

  • Failure to present defense witnesses

  • Failure to object to the prosecutors’ arguments or statements

  • Failure to object to evidence or to suppress evidence

  • Failure to interview/cross-examine witnesses

Half of the 54 appeals—exactly 27—cited multiple failures.

In other words, if your case is inadequately represented by a public defender, you face limited odds in an appeal of reversing what happened to you.

Private Defender vs. Public Defender

Public defenders, due to their caseloads and limited resources, will often accept the first plea bargain that comes along when the case goes to court. A private defender, on the other hand, will take the time to present your side of the story to prosecutors before matters even get to the courtroom. This may result in reduced—or even dropped—charges.

A public defender also may have little time to get to know you personally and answer your questions and concerns before you end up appearing in court with a judge. You may be left in the dark, wondering what happens next. A private attorney will involve you in every step of the process, answer your questions and concerns, and make sure you feel you’re being fully represented.

Don’t Risk Your Future

Your best option is to involve a private defense attorney from the very beginning, even before answering any questions from police or prosecutors. Reach out to me the moment you’re called in or contacted by the authorities. Let me start working on defending your rights and developing an aggressive strategy to protect your future.

The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith stands ready to proudly serve you in or around St. Louis and neighboring communities and counties in Missouri. Set up an initial one-on-one consultation today.