Your Rights to an Attorney: What You Need to Know


Every U.S. citizen has the right to legal counsel if they are under arrest. The 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifies people have the right to “assistance of counsel” if they are under investigation in “all criminal prosecutions.”

This law allows all people who are headed to trial for a crime to be represented by an attorney, and, if they can’t afford one, the state must provide one on their behalf. Likewise, even before a trial, a person has the right to ask for a lawyer at almost every important phase of a criminal investigation, from arrest through the first appeal after conviction.

A defense attorney’s role is crucial to maintaining the justice system so that as few innocent people go to prison as possible. All people are considered innocent until the prosecution proves them guilty. A lawyer, therefore, must provide their defendants with information regarding their case. For example, an attorney can give advice regarding how to behave or how to dress for a trial. Likewise, he or she can negotiate a plea bargain with the government on the defendant’s behalf.

Many courts have interpreted the 6th Amendment also to mean that competent counsel is guaranteed to criminal defendants. The guarantee means that attorneys who are incompetent or ineffective can be exchanged, in most cases, for another advocate.

Remember, if you are under suspicion of committing a crime, you don’t have the right to ask for a lawyer until you are officially under arrest. However, the police may try to downplay the fact that they consider you a person of interest. If you’re unsure whether or not you are under arrest, you can always ask. Custodial interrogation is when all suspects have a right to ask for an attorney.

If you’re being accused of a crime, make sure to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a conviction and earning your freedom. Talk to one of our skilled Austin criminal defense attorneys about the details of your case as soon as possible. As soon as we understand your situation, we can work toward building a solid defense on your behalf.

Contact us at (888) 907-8994 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.
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