It is important for every American citizen who is facing criminal charges to know that they have a right to counsel. This means, that if an accused cannot afford to hire his own lawyer, one will be appointed to protect his rights during the legal process. It is a pity because many people are unaware of this fundamental right, how to qualify for the court-appointed lawyer, and how far the right extends.
A person who is accused of a crime has the right to hire a criminal defence lawyer for his own defence. However, the accused also has federal protection in the form of the Sixth Amendment in the Constitution of the United States. The Sixth Amendment provides a person who is accused of a criminal offense with the right to have a lawyer at every stage of the criminal proceedings.
There is also an equivalent right to have legal counsel in the state constitution. Legal protection is provided for people who face felony charges. The state constitution provides a broader scope to the right compared to what is provided in the federal constitution.
In order to receive a court-appointed lawyer, the defendant must prove that he is indigent. He must meet the criteria that have been established by the court based on financial circumstances, income, assets, debts, and other financial obligations that may affect his ability to hire his own lawyer. A defendant cannot choose the lawyer that will be appointed by the court.
It is also important to know when the protection attaches. For individuals facing federal charges, the right attaches when the defendant faces adversary judicial proceedings. Generally, the right attaches when the defendant is actually facing criminal charges. The defendant has a right to a lawyer when he is indicted when he is scheduled for a preliminary hearing, when he has information assigned against him and when he is arraigned.
A person’s right to a lawyer does not arise simply because he is a suspect in a crime or is under investigation; he must be facing actual charges. Similarly, an arrest won’t automatically trigger the right. However, a person who is under investigation has the right to hire his own criminal defence lawyer.
Once the right is attached, the government cannot do anything to interfere in the defendant’s right to a lawyer. Meanwhile, the right is only available to defendants in criminal cases, not civil or administrative proceedings. An example is proceedings associated with the suspension of a driver’s license.
A criminal defendant has the right to waive his fundamental right. However, the court discourages this action unless the defendant can prove that he is competent to make a decision and has a clear understanding of the disadvantages of representing himself in court.
Criminal lawyers at Virk have years of education and training in the complex criminal justice system. They understand the procedures that must be followed, constitutional protections, and criminal defence before they go to trial. Criminal defence lawyers have good working relationships with prosecutors and may able to secure a plea bargain agreement to the advantage of the defendant.