Charged with a Crime in California? Do You Have a Right to an Attorney?
The right to have an attorney when you are accused of a crime is found in the Constitution's 6th Amendment. Specifically, it holds that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall…have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
In short, when the charges you are facing could result in your imprisonment, you have the right to an attorney. It does not matter whether or not you actually receive jail time. If imprisonment is even possible, you have the right to a lawyer.
You also have the right to hire an attorney of your choice. However, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. You are typically not able to choose your court-appointed attorney.
If you can afford an attorney, your best bet is to start by contacting Eric D. Anderson Law at 909.283.5494 or online for a free consultation. We can make sure your rights are preserved as you go through the criminal justice system.
California Violations of a Right to a Criminal Defense
The right to criminal defense is fundamental; when it is erroneously denied, a defendant is afforded recourse. Statements and evidence that are products of this violation are able to be excluded.
Why a Right to a Criminal Defense Attorney in California is Important
A criminal defendant is facing the possibility of losing their right to freedom. Because of this, a criminal defense attorney is essential to ensure the defendant has somebody that understands the legal system in their corner. A criminal defense attorney often positively influences a client's case. They work hard to prevent their client from being wrongfully convicted or receiving excessive sentences for any crime they are found guilty of. They make certain the constitutional rights of their clients are upheld.
While the court can appoint an attorney to represent you if you cannot afford one, it is almost always best to hire your own attorney whenever possible. A court-appointed attorney may not have the experience that your case requires, and even if they do, they often have a huge caseload which means your case may not receive the attention it needs. Also, as your attorney will receive very little pay for representing you, their time may be spent on more lucrative matters.
To What Standard is a Criminal Defense Attorney Held in California?
While the 6th amendment does not explicitly hold that a criminal defendant has “effective assistance of counsel,” this is how it has been interpreted by courts, and if a defendant does not receive it, he may be granted a new trial.
In Strickland v. Washington 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the court held that the proper standard for constitutional assistance of counsel is that the attorney must have provided reasonably effective assistance when considering all the circumstances. A convicted defendant has the burden of proving that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Furthermore, to obtain relief, such as another trial, a defendant must show a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the proceeding would have been different.
Going through the criminal justice system can be overwhelming and frightening. At Eric D. Anderson Law, we assist you and ensure your rights and freedoms are protected. Contact us for a free consultation either online or by calling 909.283.5494.