One of the great things about the United States is that we are guaranteed certain rights. They're set in stone in the constitution, and they protect our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. For people facing criminal charges, the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is particularly important. The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to have legal counsel during these crucial moments:
- The initial appeal of a conviction.
The Sixth Amendment also guarantees the following rights, regardless of citizenship or immigration status:
- The right to a trial by jury.
- The right to have that jury see all evidence and hear all witnesses.
- The right to be present during your trial.
- The right to confront or question witnesses presenting against you.
- The right to call your own witnesses or have the court force witnesses to appear.
- The right to testify yourself, as well as the right to refuse to testify.
- The right to have the state prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
These rights kick in during the interrogation phase of any investigation. If you're being interrogated, you can call for an attorney and the authorities must oblige your request. Until you have legal representation, you don't have to answer their questions or say anything at all.
Of course, that doesn't mean that you can't have an attorney before this. In fact, the sooner you have an attorney, the sooner you can shape your defense, which may make all the difference during your interrogation, trial and sentencing.