San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Explains The 6th Amendment Right to Counsel

Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel
The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution grants several important rights to the accused in criminal proceedings.  Among those rights: the right to a speedy trial, right to a trial by jury, to confront witnesses, to have the subpoena power of the court, and to have the assistance of counsel.  This has come to be understood to mean that the defendant has not only a right to retain the attorney of his/her choosing, but to have an attorney appointed by the court if he/she cannot afford to hire an attorney.  (See Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 US 335 (1963)).

The Sixth Amendment has long been understood to mean that the indigent accused in federal prosecutions have the right to appointed counsel.  This was later extended to state level prosecutions as well, where the charged offense can be punishable by jail time (does not include infractions).  There are some limitations to appointed counsel.  First, only those deemed indigent (financially unable to afford an attorney) are entitled to the services of the public defender or other appointed attorneys.  It is not uncommon for defendants to be charged a fee for their use of public defender services.  Additionally, there is very limited control over who the appointed attorney will be.  In other words, you cannot choose who will be your public defender.  Decisions about the allocation of time and other resources to your case will be made by a governmental agency with a very heavy caseload and limited funds.  There are great and lousy public defenders, just as there are great, and lousy private defense attorneys.  Hiring your own attorney just affords you the opportunity to make the choice for yourself.


Though appointed counsel is not available in infraction (traffic tickets, etc.) cases, and during the investigative and filing stages of a case, it can still be supremely beneficial for those who have been accused of a crime, arrested, but not yet charged or are under investigation to be represented by an attorney.  Your attorney can help assert your rights during an investigation, handle correspondence with the investigating detective, and present the good information that the police leave out to try to influence the prosecution's filing decision.  Sometimes, by having an attorney involved early in the case, it is possible to avoid a criminal charge in the first place.  This is another benefit to private representation.  A public defender will not be appointed until criminal charges have been filed and the defendant is being arraigned on those charges.  Dealing with law enforcement without an attorney present is almost always a bad idea.  Having an attorney present to represent your rights and interests will ensure that the police are not successful in any attempts to gather additional incriminating evidence.
More About Pre-Filing Representation

The US Supreme Court has interpreted the 6th Amendment right to counsel to mean that a defendant in criminal proceedings is entitled not only to representation, but to effective representation.  Our San Diego Criminal Defense office keeps a lower volume of cases in order to be able to devote our complete attention to our clients.  Attorneys who are too busy may be more likely to make mistakes, harder to get a hold of, and may be less devoted to each individual client.  Providing effective assistance in a criminal case is a difficult task that requires dedication, experience and professionalism.  A great criminal defense attorney prepares thoroughly, through investigation, examining possible motion issues, identifying clients' objectives and devising the best possible defense strategy.  Some attorneys may simply read a police report to get an understanding of the facts of the case.  The problem is that police tend to focus on the evidence pointing towards guilt, ignoring or hiding anything pointing to the contrary.  A great criminal defense lawyer will visit a crime scene, look for witnesses, identify cameras, subpoena potential witnesses and lead an investigation to find favorable evidence to help your case.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged with a crime, or may be under the investigation for a crime, consult with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney about your case.  We can answer any questions you have about your case, explain the law, evaluate your defenses, and begin to devise a defense strategy.  Call now for a Free Consultation with a San Diego Criminal Lawyer.  619-930-9515.

Some of the Practice Areas our office handles include: 

DUI, Drug Crimes, Theft Crimes, Domestic Violence, Marijuana, Financial Crimes, Auto Theft,Violent Crimes, Sex Crimes,Weapons, Unlicensed Driver, Probation Violations, Homicide, Prostitution, Drunk in Public.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
San Diego Sex Crimes Lawyer

By Nicholas Loncar  


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