Long Beach Criminal Attorney Explains the Right to Counsel

The right to counsel in a criminal case is perhaps the most important of all constitutional rights afforded the defendant. A defendant in a criminal case has a federal constitutional right to be represented by counsel at all critical stages of the prosecution.  According to one Long Beach Criminal Attorney the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches at the time adversary judicial proceedings are initiated against a defendant, e.g., when the defendant is indicted or arraigned.  The right to counsel is self-executing, i.e., the defendant is not required to make a request for counsel in order to be entitled to legal representation A defendant has a right to counsel unless and until the defendant affirmatively waives that right.

When a defendant appears at arraignment in the Long Beach Court without counsel, the court must inform the defendant of his or her right to counsel before being arraigned and ask if the defendant desires the assistance of counsel.  If the defendant is able to employ counsel, the court must continue the case for a reasonable period to allow the defendant to obtain counsel. If the accused desires but cannot afford counsel, the court must appoint counsel to represent the defendant.  Many courts do not make a formal appointment, but rather continue the case for a short period and refer the defendant to the public defender’s office. In cases involving codefendants, the court must appoint separate and independent counsel for each defendant.  Should you or a loved one be facing criminal charges, contact a defense lawyer immediately.

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