Wk 4 – Right to Counsel Sample Solution: The United States Constitution under the Sixth Amendment guarantees every citizen the right to access legal counsel for their defense in a criminal proceeding…
Wk 4 – Right to Counsel Sample Solution
The Right to Counsel
The United States Constitution under the Sixth Amendment guarantees every citizen the right to access legal counsel for their defense in a criminal proceeding. In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court established that a fair trial guarantees all defendants facing criminal prosecution the right to an attorney. Hence, the right to counsel protects the accused from arbitrary and unreasonable prosecution. The mandate is upheld by the government, which ensures the rule of law and fair criminal proceedings. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the government should appoint one to represent them or pay the accused person’s legal fees. Legal representation is critical in any criminal proceedings, and the right to counsel guarantees that each person has access to an attorney.
The provisions of the right to an attorney in the Constitution have evolved to cater to criminal justice’s dynamic demands. The right to an attorney in English common law was upheld for crimes regarded as less severe but denied to those accused of serious crimes. Ideally, an attorney’s input was viewed as a hindrance to the accused person’s punishment as; the society was to bear the burden of the defense attorneys’ cost. The attorneys would make the work of the prosecutors and the police difficult. As the number of prosecutions rose, the courts were willing to permit the retained attorneys to represent the accused (King, 2013). During the Sixth Amendment’s ratification, England continued only to guarantee the right to counsel to misdemeanor cases. The Bill of Rights drafters rejected the limitations and included the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment. The American courts had been liberal in providing the right to an attorney compared to the English courts. However, the Sixth Amendment intended to guarantee the accused persons the right to retain attorneys at their cost, not necessarily the right to counsel
The Scope of the Right to Counsel
Gideon v. Wainwright 372 U.S. 335 of 1963 set the precedent of the right to an attorney in felony charges. The Supreme Court upheld that an attorney’s right ensured the accused person’s right had adequate legal representation (Del Carmen, 2013). The right to counsel involves the right of the accused to access legal representation even when they cannot afford legal fees. The scope of the right to counsel covers the accused person’s right to a trial without unnecessary delay, the right to an impartial court jury, the right to information on who the accusers are, the right to information on the nature of the charges, and the evidence against them. However, self-representation is a substantial right, and an accused person can choose to represent himself in court during the trial. In Feretta v. California U.S. Sup. Ct. 1975, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment provisions provide the accused person with a constitutional right to go to trial without counsel when they waive the right to an attorney voluntarily and intelligently. The interpretation of the Supreme Court of the Sixth Amendment’s structure of provision as in the English common law background. The English common law envisioned self- representation, and the court did not want to undermine the structure (Bergman, 2020). Self- representation is not an absolute right, and it is advisable to seek legal representation as opposed to self- representation during trial.
The attorneys appointed to the accused person either by the accused or by the government have various responsibilities. The attorney must represent and defend the accused persons by informing them of their constitutional rights. The attorneys have to ensure that the clients understand the charges against them and the proceedings at trial. The attorneys are expected to inform the accused person of all the available options when fighting the charges. The attorneys should assist and advise the accused person on legal matters and options (“The Right to Counsel – FindLaw,” 2019). The attorney is expected to secure an acquittal verdict of the accused by proving their innocence by providing evidence against the accusations.
Limitations to the right to an attorney
The right to an attorney is a right provided to every accused person. An accused person may choose to have an attorney of his choice if he or she has the means to have one. In the case where the accused person is not able to do so, the court appoints one to represent him. When this happens, the accused person does not have a say as the court appoints an attorney according to what the law contemplates; the competent lawyer practice. When a convicted person commits a crime in prison and pleads guilty for the crime, then they waive the right to counsel as the law operates on the scope of self- representation.
The challenges to the right to counsel and the courts are the rising numbers in self- representing litigants. The challenge renders most defense attorneys less useful, as the court’s advice accused persons of seeking legal representation. The court system is trying to make the courts friendly and improving access to justice. The courts and the justice system are facing challenges with funding. The taxes pay the defense attorneys appointed by the courts from the people. The funds are insufficient to sustain the number of accused persons who cannot afford legal fees and pay the defense attorneys.
Bergman, P. (2020). Your Right to Represent Yourself in a Criminal Case. Www.nolo.com. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/right-represent-yourself-criminal-case.html.
Del Carmen, R. (2013). Criminal procedure + careers in criminal justice. Wadsworth.
King, J. (2013). Scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1316&context=wlufac.
The Right to Counsel – FindLaw. Findlaw. (2019). Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/the-right-to-counsel.html.