A criminal defendant’s right to an attorney is found in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires the “assistance of counsel” for the accused in all criminal prosecutions. This means that a defendant has a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney during every aspect of a criminal proceeding from the arraignment and through an appeals process. It also means that if the defendant cannot afford an attorney, in almost all instances the government will appoint one to handle the case, at no cost to the defendant.
The defense attorney’s role is of paramount importance in almost every criminal case. While specific duties of an attorney vary depending on the nature of the charges and the case, key responsibilities of any criminal defense lawyer include advising the defendant of his or her rights and explaining what to expect at different stages of the criminal process; ensuring that the defendant’s constitutional rights are not violated through law enforcement conduct, or in court proceedings and negotiating a plea bargain with the government, on the defendant’s behalf. Lastly, a defense attorney is responsible for investigating facts and the evidence presented as well as cross-examining witnesses, objecting to evidence and questions presented by the prosecution and presenting any legal defenses that may be apparent.
Courts have interpreted the Sixth Amendment right to counsel as guaranteeing the “effective assistance of counsel” to criminal defendants. It doesn’t matter whether the attorney is hired by the defendant or appointed by the government. However, questionable strategic choices made by an attorney and even serious lawyer errors, in some instances do not usually cause a conviction to be thrown out, unless it is clear that the attorney’s incompetence affected the outcome of the case.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.