The Right to An Attorney: How Court Appointed Representation Works

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being accused of a crime, the most important thing you can do is to secure a criminal defense attorney. As a U.S. citizen, you have the right to an attorney as outlined in the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. 

The original constitutional amendment gave the right to an attorney to defendants in federal prosecutions. Nearly 150 years later, in 1963, lawmakers finally applied the Sixth Amendment to felony offenses at the state level. 

The 6th amendment protects criminal defendants by guaranteeing them certain rights. These are the right to a public, speedy trial, the right to a jury of your peers, and the right to confront your accuser in a court of law.

You have the right to an effective criminal defense attorney

Your right to legal counsel extends beyond the requirement for a licensed attorney. The language actually guarantees you the right to effective counsel. 

This does not mean you are guaranteed to win your case, of course. An attorney is effective when they pursue every legal interpretation and defense that is available and applicable to your case. It also applies to the way an attorney conducts herself before, during, and after your hearings and trial.

If you feel that you are receiving ineffective counsel before or during your criminal trial, you must plead your case to the judge at a special hearing, where only you (the defendant), the judge, and your lawyer are present. During this trial, you will have the opportunity to present evidence of your attorney’s ineffectiveness. If the judge agrees, you can hire a new lawyer if you have a private attorney. If the court appointed your original attorney, they will assign another one to you at this time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you and your attorney will get any additional time to prepare, so this can be a risky decision. Use it wisely.

After a trial ends, a conviction can be overturned due to ineffective defense of counsel. This happens through the appeals process. At the appeal hearing, you must prove that your attorney’s defense strategy was not “objectively reasonable” or effective. They must also make the case that if the attorney had performed effectively, the trial would have had a different result.

Court Appointed Attorneys

The state or federal court system must provide an attorney to anyone who cannot afford their own representation. Most local jurisdictions have a public defender’s office that employs attorneys specifically for this purpose. If there is no public defender’s office, the courts typically pull from a pool of local private attorneys. In these cases, the court pays for their services instead of the client.

Some people assume that court appointed attorneys are somehow less skilled or lower quality than expensive private attorneys. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Court-appointed attorneys usually have a great deal of experience navigating criminal trials and might even have relationships or awareness of local judges and prosecutors. They also have the same educational credentials and experience levels as other attorneys. One advantage may be that they tend to have a unique passion for justice and fighting for marginalized people.

Know Someone in Jail? Get Them Out Fast

We care about the Dallas community and want everyone to understand their legal rights. That’s why we fully recommend finding a lawyer or having one appointed to assist if you’re in a tough legal situation.

A-EZ Out Bail Bonds is a fast and affordable bail bonds service available throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, including Collin County and Arlington. We offer free consultations, advice and bail bond quotes. For more information on how to release someone from jail today, contact our office.

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