6th Sixth Amendment

6th Sixth Amendment

The Sixth (6th) Amendment of the Constitution provides two important principles and rights in a criminal case. The 6th amendment guarantees the right to an attorney not only at trial, but also at each integral and crucial part of the criminal justice system. The right to have a lawyer represent you in a criminal case include the right to have an attorney present at all court proceedings, from arraignment to pretrial, motions, and trial. It also includes appeals.

While there is no right to an attorney at arrest, there is a right to lawyer if the police are going to question or interrogate a suspect or defendant. Miranda rights, stem mainly from a case by the United States Supreme Court, Miranda v. Arizona, where the court held a defendant had to be advised of basic rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Defendants are cautioned that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law.

Because of Miranda v Arizona, along with a few others cases such as Hicks v Arizona and in conjunction with the 5th and 6th amendment, officers and law enforcement must cease any questioning or interrogation when a suspect requests an attorney. Failure to do so usually results in any statements being suppressed as involuntary. Once an individual has invoked Miranda rights, or the right to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning, officers may not attempt to resume questioning later, without an attorney present. Likewise, once an attorney is either hired or appointed, the individual should not be interrogated concerning that case.

If an individual cannot afford an attorney to represent his or her interests and rights in court (to ensure a fair process and treatment under the law), the defendant may have an attorney appointed. Most jurisdictions (areas) utilize a public defender's office, or in the alternative, a list of private attorneys that take criminal cases on a rotating basis. Travis County uses the latter system.


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