When you’ve been arrested and indicted with a criminal charge, you have 2 very important opportunities given to you through your Sixth Amendment rights. Florida cases and those in all other states require that 1) criminal defendants be given the right to a fair and speedy trial; and 2) that within this context is the right to counsel.
If you’ve been arrested for a crime, criminal defense lawyers aren’t just an option for those who can afford them. The right to counsel is so important, in fact, that defendants who can’t afford a lawyer are given appointed counsel paid for by the government. To learn more about your options for representation, see using a criminal defense lawyer.
The right to a fair trial includes several rights, including the right to an impartial, public trial in the state where the crime was committed. During your trial, you’ll have to face the witnesses who testify against you. On the other hand, you are also allowed to have witnesses testify on your behalf.
When you’ve been charged with a crime, your criminal defense team will understand that while you know the penalties you may face, everything can get a bit hazy after that. Because the legal system can be confusing, you’ll want to work with a lawyer with experience in criminal defense cases to make sure your Sixth Amendment rights in your Florida case are upheld.
Sixth Amendment Rights and Florida Trials
In addition to the opportunity to confromt witnesses during your trial, you have the right to call witnesses on your behalf, plus the right to a fair trial by jury. Other rights include:
- the right to be present at the trial;
- the chance to testify or refuse to testify;
- the right to cross-examine witnesses; and
- the right to make sure the state proves its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
Sixth Amendment Rights and Florida Legal Counsel
Keep in mind that your right to legal counsel doesn't begin when you go to trial. Your right to counsel can begin even during the interrogation phase of a criminal investigation.
Your counsel can also represent you during the trial, sentencing, and an initial appeal, if you’re convicted. It’s never too late to select counsel, if you haven’t done so already.
Keep in mind that selecting a lawyer well-versed in criminal defense cases means that you’ll know just when you can file motions aimed to protect your rights, such as motions to suppress statements or illegally obtained evidence. If you try to act as your own counsel, you may miss these important and case-altering opportunities.
When you face criminal charges, the future may be uncertain, and fears of conviction may weigh heavily on your mind. The right to counsel is so important it is included in the Constitution, and your specific case is no different.
To learn more about how a criminal case works, see "The Process of Criminal Trials."