Sixth Amendment Right to a Fair Hearing and to Advice of Counsel

Sixth Amendment Right to a Fair Hearing and to Advice of Counsel

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees that criminal defendants have the right to a “fair hearing,” and this includes, among other rights, the right to the advice and assistance of an attorney.  This right was clearly established in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright.  A later decision, Strickland v. Washington, further requires that criminal defendants receive the effective assistance of an attorney.  The Court determined in that Strickland that it is not enough simply to have the help of an attorney.  The Court held that a criminal defendant also has a right to minimally effective and competent help from an attorney.

Lessons from the Past

To vote is like the payment of a debt, a duty never to be neglected, if its performance is possible.

Rutherford B. Hayes

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