"In all criminal proceedings, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."
The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a most critical component of the Bill of Rights because, when you are accused, it provides you with a lawyer; someone who is trained and practiced in the legal process and can provide a safeguard against violations of your other rights and protections.
While it seems like a right we have enjoyed forever, it was only in 1963 that the Supreme Court held that states must provide a lawyer for all felony suspects who may otherwise be unable to afford one.
Today, all person charged with a serious crime, misdemeanor or felony, in the United States enjoy the assistance of a defense attorney regardless of economic status.
In California, county-employed public defenders represent clients who cannot afford their own attorneys, and contrary to popular belief, achieve roughly equal outcomes for their clients compared to privately-hired lawyers. Though system overload and limited resources prevent most public defenders from offering each client the extensive personal service and attention available through privately retained counsel.
It is understandable that many Americans, particularly young people, have become cynical about police practices and our legal system. It is quite common to lose hope when arrested and to become angry at the officer or the law he is enforcing. However, it is absolutely essential to remember that our legal system does provide rights for the accused.
If you're arrested, WAIT FOR LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO DISCUSS A CRIMINAL CHARGE WITH POLICE.
And Never rely on police to inform you of your right to remain silent and see a lawyer.
Say the Magic Words!
Tell the police: "I'm going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer." If police persist in questioning you, repeat the magic words and every time they try to talk to you, repeat the magic words until your lawyer arrives.
For more on this and other criminal defense issues in California, visit www.TheLegalGuardian.net or call The Law Office of David J. Givot at (888) 293-0396.