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What Are My Sixth Amendment Rights?

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes several rights for criminal defendants to ensure they receive a fair trial. This article guarantees the right to a speedy trial, the right to legal counsel, the right to trial by jury, the right to be informed of the charges brought against them, and the right to face their accuser.

Right to a Speedy and Public Trial

This does not mean that the court proceedings will last only a few days; some cases can take months or years to conclude. Rather, the right helps prevent the defendant from being incarcerated for a lengthy amount of time before they are tried for the alleged offense. In the U.S., a person is innocent until proven guilty, and making someone who did not commit the alleged offense wait in jail would be unfair. Additionally, the more time that passes between the alleged crime and the trial could result in lost evidence, which would make it difficult for the accused to defend themselves against the charges.

Under this provision, the defendant is also guaranteed a public trial, which allows citizens to get involved in the criminal justice process and creates a bit of transparency in the system.

The Right to Impartial Jury

The right to trial by an impartial jury means that a panel of citizens will hear the case. Assembling a jury of individuals who don’t have prejudice or bias against the defendant is a way to ensure a fair trial. However, not all criminal cases are heard by a jury. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, a person is guaranteed a jury trial for serious offenses only – those that result in a punishment of 6 or more months in prison. In some circumstances, the defendant can waive their right to a jury and have their case heard by a judge only.

Right to Be Informed of Accusations

Under this provision, the defendant has the right to hear what allegations were made against them. Essentially, learning about the charges helps the individual prepare a defense for their case.

Right to Confront Accuser

The Confrontation Clause allows a defendant to face their accuser and cross-examine them during the trial. The purpose of this right is to test the credibility and honesty of the people testifying against the accused.

Right to Legal Counsel

The defendant is allowed to have a lawyer present throughout the case. Generally, if an individual cannot afford an attorney, the government must appoint one for them without charge. Counsel can help the accused understand their rights, the allegations they’re facing, and the criminal trial process. A lawyer can also argue in court on the defendant’s behalf.

Schedule a Free Consultation with David L. Owen, Jr., P.C.

Backed by 33 years of trial experience, Attorney David L. Owen, Jr. knows how to fight criminal charges and protect an individual’s rights. He will provide the effective counsel you need to ensure you have a fair trial.

To schedule your confidential consultation, call (303) 622-3281 or fill out an online contact form.