Right to Counsel (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The legal responsibility for the government to provide every defendant in a criminal action with LEGAL REPRESENTATION that also must be deemed effective.
The SIXTH AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution holds, in part, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." This clause grants to all defendants the right to an attorney from the moment they are taken into police custody.
The decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court have also construed this Right to Counsel Clause to mean that an impoverished, or indigent, defendant has the constitutional right to the presence of a court-appointed attorney at critical stages in the criminal proceedings. These critical stages include CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION, post-indictment lineups, preliminary hearings, ARRAIGNMENT, trial, sentencing, and the first appeal of conviction.
The Right to Counsel Clause was a reaction against the English practice of denying the assistance of an attorney in serious criminal cases and requiring defendants to appear before the court and defend themselves in their own words. The 1586 trial of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, illustrates the harshness of denying the assistance of counsel in a criminal case. Queen Mary was charged with
(The entire section is 2909 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!