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How does the 6th Amendment protect those facing a felony charge?

The law is sometimes intricate and complex. For people in Illinois who have not studied law, facing a felony charge could be similar to trying to interpret a foreign language. Fortunately, the Bill of Rights defines many different rights that are afforded to those who face criminal charges. Without intimate knowledge of these rights, however, a defendant could become overwhelmed as he or she goes through the court system.

One of the most important amendments in regard to criminal prosecution is the Sixth Amendment. Perhaps most importantly, this amendment gives those accused of a crime the right to a lawyer. This applies not just to an actual trial, but other court proceedings such as sentencing and some parts of the appeals process, as well as interrogations by the police. People who are accused of a crime but are unable to afford an attorney can be appointed one.

An experienced attorney can help guide the accused through the many different options available, also defined by the Sixth Amendment. For example, a defendant has the right choose whether to testify in his or her trial. An attorney can help decide the best course of action in regard to testifying. Additionally, a defendant has the right to cross-examine those testifying against him or her and have access to evidence against him or her. These are just a few of the rights defined in the Sixth Amendment.

It is easy to understand how a person who does not interact with the law every day may not be fully aware of all of these elements. This is why defendants have the right to an attorney -- to ensure that all accused get a fair trial. An attorney experienced with Illinois law can help those facing a felony charge review his or her options and make decisions appropriately.

Source: FindLaw, "What the Sixth Amendment Guarantees", , Sept. 7, 2014

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