question.jpgIn Criminal Law

Do I have a right to a lawyer?

Under the 6th Amendment, defendants have a guaranteed right to counsel (a lawyer) in most circumstances. Since the 1963 case, Gideon v. Wainwright, defendants have a right to counsel in felony and misdemeanor cases. Indeed, a defendant has a right to counsel in any case in which there is a threat of imprisonment. In fact, a defendant even has right to counsel where the punishment would be a suspended sentence; however, a defendant does not have this right if imprisonment is authorized but not actually imposed. Moreover, juvenile defendants have the same right to counsel ifthere is a threat of loss of freedoms (such as jail time in a juvenile facility). Be warned, however, that if you are convicted of a crime in a hearing in which you didn’t use a lawyer, that conviction has still be held against you in sentencing for a subsequent crime.