Ineffective Assistance of Counsel as a Ground for Criminal Appeals in Georgia

Our firm represents clients in cases involving ineffective assistance of counsel in Georgia criminal appeals. We can assist you with your case. Call us.

Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel Claims

You are entitled to a fair trial regardless of what the charges are against you. A constitutional violation may have rendered your conviction unsustainable.

Both federal and Georgia law provides a number of grounds for an appeal, including but not limited to sentencing errors, serious errors of law, abuse of discretion, improper jury conduct, prosecutorial misconduct, and ineffective representation.

An ineffective assistance of counsel claim can be brought on appeal. The appellant must meet a high burden to establish ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

Establishing Ineffective Legal Assistance by Counsel

Attorneys have several responsibilities to ensure that their client’s constitutional rights are protected and that they receive a fair trial.

Getting the previous judgment vacated on a claim of ineffective assistance is a challenging task. For a successful claim, your attorney should prove two things:

  1. That their predecessor performed in a professionally deficiently manner and
  2. Their predecessor’s incompetence/ineffectiveness led to an erroneous verdict.

To establish ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the appellant must prove both deficiency and prejudice. If your appellate attorney fails to demonstrate that your trial counsel acted improperly, the courts will affirm your conviction.


The appellant must prove that their trial attorney handled the case in an ineffective manner. This means that the trial lawyer’s performance fell below an “objective standard of reasonableness.”

Trial counsel is often responsible for a variety of tasks on many aspects of the case, including:

  • The defense strategy
  • Questions to ask during cross-examination
  • Witnesses to call
  • Extra evidence to help their clients

Every decision an attorney makes must be based on a reasonable investigation and examination of the case. An uninformed or improper decision of this nature would fall under the category of deficient performance. The trial counsel’s failure to investigate potential evidence that favors the defendant, calling a witness to the stand without interviewing them, or not providing adequate advice and preparation for testimony in the trial court are also examples of ineffective performance.


The appellant should show how their counsel’s deficiency harmed their case. A key element of prejudice is to establish the reasonable probability of a better outcome had the trial attorney performed adequately.If the deficiency did not affect the results, the claim will not succeed on appeal.

The trial lawyer’s mistakes are less likely to have harmed the defendant if there was overwhelming evidence of guilt. If there was scant evidence, mistakes by the trial lawyer are more likely to have hurt the defendant.

Under the cumulative error rule in Georgia, appellate courts must consider the cumulative prejudice the defendant has suffered as a result of multiple deficiencies by their counsel. In other words, if the trial lawyer performs deficiently in multiple instances, the combined harm caused by those deficiencies is relevant.

In order to mount successful a criminal appeal in Georgia, it is essential that you work with an attorney who can expertly analyze your trial. After doing so, the attorney will devise an appellate strategy based on their findings.

Bringing an Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claim 

Ineffective assistance of counsel claims must be initially brought in the same county in which the defendant was convicted – usually in front of the same judge that presided over the trial. The first step in bringing an ineffective assistance claim is to file a motion for a new trial within 30 days of sentencing.

Once the judge schedules a hearing, the appellate lawyer will almost always subpoena the trial attorney to testify. The purpose of this testimony is to establish why the trial lawyer took (or failed to take) certain actions in the case. It is important to remember that lawyers make mistakes, but not all of them indicate ineffectiveness.

The 5 Most Common Claims of Ineffective Counsel

Your attorney’s ineffectiveness can result in an unjust verdict. Here are five common claims of ineffective counsel:

  1. Your attorney’s failure to object unlawfully obtained evidence
  2. Failing to object to inadmissible testimony
  3. Failing to investigate your case
  4. Failing to present the best legal defense available to you
  5. Your attorney had a misunderstanding of the law 

To achieve a successful criminal appeal in Georgia, it’s crucial to collaborate with an attorney skilled in trial analysis, who will then develop an appellate strategy accordingly.

What is the process for ineffective assistance of counsel claim in a Georgia criminal appeal?

In Georgia, raising an ineffective assistance of counsel claim in a criminal appeal is a structured process, designed to ensure that every criminal defendant receives competent legal representation.

If a defendant believes their legal counsel was inadequate, leading to a criminal conviction, they have the right to challenge this in the appellate court.

The process typically begins with the criminal defendant consulting an Atlanta criminal appeals attorney, who is well-versed in the nuances of Georgia’s appeals process.

This attorney will review the details of the original trial to determine if there were clear instances where legal counsel’s performance was deficient and directly resulted in the conviction.

Once grounds for appeal are established, the attorney will draft a brief detailing how the legal representation during the criminal case violated court rules or was otherwise ineffective.

This might include instances of improper jury instructions, juror misconduct, or other violations of court rules that occurred during the criminal trials.

The appeals court, which could be the Georgia Supreme Court or another appellate court, will then review the claim. This review often involves oral arguments where both sides present their case.

If the appellate court determines that the legal representation was indeed ineffective and had a direct impact on the outcome of the jury trial, the conviction can be reversed.

However, having a conviction overturned is not the end of the legal process. The Georgia court might order a new trial, or in some cases, the charges might be dismissed entirely. It’s crucial to note that not every mistake made by legal counsel will result in a conviction being reversed.

The criminal defendant must demonstrate that the error was so significant that it fundamentally impacted the fairness of the original trial.

Can You Argue Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Habeas Corpus Petitions?

Ineffective assistance is the most common claim raised in a habeas corpus petition by convicted individuals. Additionally, even if your appellate counsel does not raise an ineffective assistance claim during a direct appeal, you may still be able to raise it in a habeas case.

How Can Conklin Law Offices Help You With an Appeal Case?

Whether you believe you were wrongfully convicted of a crime or believe that the trial process was unfair, Conklin Law can help. We have successfully overturned convictions at the appellate level in both state and federal courts.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to appeals. The attorneys at our firm will review every aspect of your case, including court transcripts, evidence against you, and interviews with witnesses, in order to provide you with the best representation possible.

We are in a race against time. Don’t wait until the appeal deadline passes; contact us today. Our team will handle your appeal or habeas corpus case until the very end. Get in touch today, and we will set up a meeting for you.


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