Right to Counsel

By the Sixth Amendment of the American constitution, every defendant has a legal right to have the assistance of a counsel for defense (Crawford, 2001). This clause has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to dictate for courts to appoint a public attorney for defendants who are economically or mentally challenged (Crawford, 2001). This is in purpose to ensure fairness and just treatment for offenders. However, according to the same amendment, a defendant has a right to self-representation through their own voluntary and intelligent decision.

Therefore, having a legal counsel during a case proceeding is a constitutional right for all citizens irrespective of their social, political andor economic status in the community (Kelly, 2009). This essay is a discussion on the aspects of the right to counsel, its development and place in criminal procedures. The role of attorneys as it applies to right to counsel and a discussion on the provision on right to self-representation is also given.

The right to counsel is much pronounced as a tool for mitigating unfair and unjust treatment of criminal suspects in the criminal justice system (Kelly, 2009). According to the defining clauses of the functioning of the American criminal justice system, a crime suspect remains not guilty unless, found guilty during trial and thus convicted (Crawford, 2001). However, the law has in it that many citizens have little or no knowledge of their underlying constitutional rights thus making them subjects of injustice during criminal justice proceedings. This makes the need for defendants to have legal counsel an important requirement.

The development of the right to counsel has its core roots in the Sixth Amendment of the American constitution, which clearly defines it as a basic right for all defendants from the time formal charges are initiated against them (Tomkovicz, 2002). Nevertheless, though not well mentioned in the Fifth Amendment, Supreme Court ruling on the Miranda v. Arizona case found the right to counsel is the best tool for enforcing the privilege of being free from self-incrimination (Crawford, 2001). This Miranda v. Arizona case is thus found as a landmark case that guaranteed American citizens a right to counsel during arrest, while in police custody and during interrogation (Crawford, 2001).

From the implications of the right to counsel as is defined in the Sixth and Fifth Amendments of the American constitution, it is clear that a crime suspect must not be deprived of their constitutional right to counsel from arrest, through interrogation, to trial, to the first appeal. According to the ruling on the case of Miranda v. Arizona, it is the obligation of the law enforcement to make sure that the suspect are informed of their right to a counsel and that of not to be compelled to self-incrimination (Tomkovicz, 2002).

According to the implied application on the right to counsel in protecting the privilege of being free from self-incrimination of the Fifth Amendment, a suspect has the legal right to waiver this right during the interrogation process (Tomkovicz, 2002). However, according to the Miranda v. Arizona ruling, such should be deliberately made, knowingly and with intelligently. Therefore, if the prosecution provides evidence against a defendant in court, which was collected without the presence of a counsel, it must give sufficient proof that suspect waived their rights to counsel and being from self incrimination during interrogation (Crawford, 2001).

The sixth amendment on the other side gives the defendant a constitutional right to waiver their constitutional right to a counsel during the process of formal charges (Crawford, 2001). However, just like in the Miranda v. Arizona case, it should be voluntary and intelligent. This means that, for a court to rely on statements from the suspect made without a counsel, the prosecution must proof that the suspect intentionally waived their right to counsel through a clear communication of the same. Another requirement is a proof that the suspect actually understood both the importance of the right and the potential consequences of waiving it.

In the quest to ensure that the right to counsel for all is respected, cases involving juveniles draw much opposition for the suspect to waive their right to counsel. This is purposely because the standards requirements for waiving the right to counsel are intention, knowledge, and intelligence, factors which are no doubt potentially missing in a juvenile suspect. Due to this reason, some states like Illinois and Texas completely prohibit juveniles from waiving the right to counsel (Tomkovicz, 2002). Several other states dictate that the suspect must consult with an attorney before waiving the right to counsel.

There are a number of roles of attorneys in the criminal justice system in relation to the right to counsel, all of which are tailored towards realization fair and just treatment on the defendant. First, attorneys serve the purpose of giving legal advice to criminal suspect on the legal implications of the case (Crawford, 2001). This involves informing the suspect of their rights as well as what they should expect at the various stages of the criminal process against them. This function is what makes it a basic right to counsel particularly at the arrest and interrogation stages. Just to be appreciated is the fact that it is by the statements made while in police custody that greatly determines charges against the suspect during court trial (Garder, 2000).

Another role of attorneys is to ensure that the constitutional rights of the defendant are respected and upheld during the criminal process (Kelly, 2009). Such include identifying and mitigating any misconduct by the law enforcement and during the court proceedings. The attorney, as serving to ensure fairness and just treatment for defendant, function a critical role in negotiating plea bargain with the government for the suspect.

The last role of attorneys is to function as a defense for the defendant during the criminal process through to sentencing (Crawford, 2001). They should investigate and qualify facts and evidence brought against the defendant and cross exam government witnesses during trail. One technicality involved in criminal justice system is formulation, asking, understanding, andor answering questions (Crawford, 2001). Due to this reason, attorneys in the criminal justice system function to raise objection to improper question and evidence against the defendant. Lastly, the attorney has a function of presenting legal defense.

Therefore, the right to counsel can be summarized as having the following aspects. First, it is a fundamental right of every on to be given legal advice on their rights pertaining a given criminal process. Another aspect is that this right is provided for both at the federal and state courts and is applicable to criminal rather than civil cases (Crawford, 2001). The right to counsel can be waived by the individual based on intentional and intelligent decision.

Thus, basing prosecution on statements made by the defendant without a counsel representation require adequate proof that by the prosecution that indeed the defendant intentionally waived their right to counsel (Crawford, 2001). Based on these reasons therefore, the constitutional right to counsel serves nothing less than ensuring justice to the defendant throughout the criminal process, typically from arrest through to the first appeal after conviction.


Post a Comment