A key component of the Bill of Rights, the 6th Amendment has resulted in important changes for criminal defendants in the last several centuries. The Amendment guarantees a right to be informed of the charges against you, a speedy trial by jury, and the right to legal counsel even if you cannot afford a lawyer. Here is a detailed look at the 6th Amendment:
History The idea of a jury evolved in the French and English legal systems in the centuries leading up to settlement of the American colonies. A conviction by a group of people prevented a single judge or prosecutor from usurping justice for their own personal gain. The trial by jury clause guarantees that a larger group of people will hear both sides of the case before they make their decision. Overall, the Bill of Rights helped underscore the Constitution’s aim to reign in the power of government and protect individual rights.
Public Defenders One of the major effects of the 6th Amendment on the U.S. legal system is the availability of public defenders for criminal defendants who cannot afford their own counsel. This allows all defendants charged with a crime to consult knowledgeable lawyers who can help negotiate a plea agreement or defend against false accusations.
Applications to Your Criminal Case In addition to the option to obtain a free public defender, the 6th Amendment allows you to undergo a trial by jury of your peers. If your case does not reach a favorable plea agreement and go to trial, a jury ensures that over-zealous state and county prosecutors do not jail innocent people. Your criminal defense attorney can also help with jury selection—ensuring that sympathetic individuals will be deciding your fate.
If you have been changed with a criminal offense, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is instrumental to fighting the charge. The skilled team at Hinkle, Jachimowicz, Pointer & Emanuel has been defending San Jose drivers in criminal and DUI cases for more than two decades. Call our office at (408) 916-1413 to schedule a free case consultation.