Law Dictionary

ineffective assistance of counsel

in·ef·fec·tive assistance of counsel

legal Definition of ineffective assistance of counsel

: representation of a criminal defendant that is so flawed as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial
  • claimed ineffective assistance of counsel following his conviction
called also ineffective assistance
Note: Ineffective assistance of counsel is a violation of the guarantee of the assistance of counsel that is provided in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel may be brought as a result of government interference with the attorney-client relationship that precludes effective representation, as when an informant is present during conversations between the attorney and the defendant. The existence of a conflict of interest on the part of the attorney may also be the basis for a claim. Most claims are, however, based on the attorney's failure to provide competent representation. Competent representation does not require the best representation, only a performance that is reasonable under prevailing professional norms.

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