The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.
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.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.