​Sixth Amendment (Or, I want to call my lawyer.)

Posted by Steve Jackson on Jan 26th 2024

​Sixth Amendment (Or, I want to call my lawyer.)

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

Okay, let’s dissect this run-on sentence.

A criminal is a person who has broken a major law, like murder, rape, or robbery. A civil prosecution is administered to someone who has been involved in a less violent infraction or lawsuit involving divorce, foreclosure, loss of money, causing property or personal harm.

A “speedy trial” was officially set up in the “Speedy Trial Act” of 1974. An indictment is officially required 30 days from the time of arrest and a trial is supposed to commence within 70 days of indictment. However, both the defense and the prosecution have many legal ways to bend those time limits. The “Speedy Trial” then is a guideline at best.

The accused has the right to face his accusers in a public trial although the identity of the accuser can be hidden and a public trial can have some or all of the public excluded under certain circumstances.

The judge can deem the offense as “petty” and disregard the jury unless the offense can be punished with a sentence longer than six months.

The court can compel a witness for the defense (compulsory process) to be questioned in court. The accused also has the right to be defended by an attorney appointed and paid for by the court regardless as to whether the accused can afford one or not.

All the above is for the benefit of the accused who can still waive away all the above rights, plead guilty and accept his or her fate.

www.findlaw.com/The Sixth Amendment was signed December 15, 1791 along with nine others that formed the Bill Of Rights to the U.S. Constitution.

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