Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fourth Circuit Finds Professional Negligence Malpractice and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Yesterday, August 6, 2007, the United States Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit held that a criminal defense attorney committed ineffective assistance of counsel when he advised his client to plead guilty to federal felon in possession of a firearm charges when the record and evidence revealed that the client may have had a justification defense.

During an argument with his girlfriend, the defendant's girlfriend aimed a firearm at the defendant. In response he took the firearm from her, and walked to a nearby bar where police were waiting. He immediately turned over the gun to police upon there arrival.

Counsel for the defendant advised the defendant that there was no defense to his crime and he ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison

The problem was that the justification defense was available for felon in possession of a firearm charges (18 USCA 922) and EVERY circuit which addressed the issue had held the defense available. Counsel was just plain wrong in his advice, he simply did not know that the defense was available to these charges.

This case underscores the importance of hiring or otherwsie obtaining knowledgeable counsel for your case. If this defendant had a knowledgable attorney, it may not have cost him 4 years of his life (he had been arrested on August 2, 2002).

See full case here:


Chip Venie is a private criminal defense attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is admitted to practice before state and federal courts in New Mexico, California, Washington, D.C., and Michigan. Mr. Venie graduated from The University of Virginia School of Law and clerked as a staff Attorney to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Venie has litigated over 700 trial level felony matters and over 150 appeals. Mr. Venie can be reached at (505) 766-9000 or 619) 235-8300, or chipesq@hotmail.com.

Mr. Venie's website can be found at http://www.anothernotguilty.com

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