Right to Counsel
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all citizens the right to an attorney if he or she is ever accused of a crime.
Also known as “right to counsel,” this protection ensures that all defendants—even those with limited income—have the opportunity to consult with an attorney before their case goes to trial. In fact, the Sixth Amendment states that if a defendant cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to him or her at no charge.
Regardless of whether you hire your own attorney or choose to have one appointed to you, the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel
also guarantees effective legal representation. This means that, from an ethical standpoint, all attorneys—whether employed privately or by the government—must provide competent counsel for their defendant. However, if you are found guilty, it will be difficult to prove that your conviction was due to ineffective legal representation—even if your attorney made several errors during your trial. As a result, obtaining legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney is always in your best interest.
As a defendant, your right to counsel can be invoked at any time during the criminal case—whether it is during your arrest or after you have been convicted. Once you decide to hire an attorney, it is important to understand his or her duties and responsibilities. First and foremost, your attorney is there to ensure that your constitutional rights are not violated in any way. In addition, your attorney will make sure you understand the charges against and keep you informed during the proceedings. He or she will also offer recommendations for your case and, if applicable, negotiate a plea bargain
with the prosecutor. Most importantly, your attorney will defend you during your trial and make sure all of the evidence used against you
is legally valid.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important that you invoke your right to counsel and obtain legal representation before your case goes to trial—regardless of guilt. An experienced criminal defense attorney will make sure you get a fair trial and see to it that your rights are protected at all times.
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