Getting arrested or charged with a crime can be extremely frightening and stressful, and it may feel like you have nowhere to turn for help and support. However, thanks to the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, there is always at least one person whom you can rely on: your attorney. Among other rights, the Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to “the assistance of counsel for his defense.” If you are facing charges, you should be sure to understand the full extent of the protection that this clause provides.
What Does the Right to Legal Counsel Include?
The Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel means that in a trial or court hearing related to the charges you are facing, you have the right to representation from a qualified defense attorney. Your attorney can take many important actions to protect your rights and help you avoid conviction or an unfair sentence. For example, they can speak on your behalf in opening and closing arguments, help you present evidence and testimony to demonstrate your innocence, cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution, and object to inadmissible evidence and improper trial procedure.
If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you have the right to representation from a court-appointed public defender at no cost. However, if you have the resources, hiring an attorney of your choosing can help you better ensure that you are working with someone you trust and whose experience best positions them to serve your needs.
Your attorney can also help you even before the trial begins. For example, in conjunction with your Fifth Amendment right to protection from self-incrimination, your right to counsel means that you can request your attorney’s presence for any questioning by law enforcement or prosecutors. You also have the right to consult with your attorney in the time leading up to your trial to help you prepare the best possible defense.
Your right to an attorney also means that you have options if you are unsatisfied with the counsel you are receiving. For example, before your case is resolved, it is often possible to request a change in your defense attorney, including from a public defender to an attorney of your choice. Additionally, if you believe that your attorney’s ineffective counsel negatively impacted the outcome of your case, you may be able to move for a mistrial and a re-trial with a new defense attorney.
Contact a Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney
If you need a defense attorney after a recent arrest, or if you want to make a change due to your current attorney’s ineffectiveness, Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help. Our Milwaukee County criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in a wide variety of state and federal criminal cases, and we will fight to protect you from unnecessary conviction and punishment. Contact us today at 414-271-1440 to request a consultation.