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Your Right to an Attorney

Posted by Aaron D. Lawrence | Sep 19, 2022 | 0 Comments

You hire a mechanic, a doctor, and a lawyer for the same underlying reason. You only have so much time in the day and you cannot become an expert in everything. Fortunately, for those who have been accused of a crime, the backbone of our legal system is each person's right to an attorney. This right is true regardless of whether you can afford one or not. Of course, it is always best to be able to choose who represents you in a court of law in Louisiana.

At Lawrence Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyer represents clients who face criminal charges in North Louisiana. We believe our clients make the best decisions for themselves when they are well informed. So, here we explain what your right to an attorney means. Contact us at 318.232.4000 to schedule a Free Consultation and to make sure your rights are preserved as you go through the criminal justice system.

Charged with a Crime in North Louisiana? You Have a Right to an Attorney

The right to have an attorney when you are accused of a crime is found in the Constitution's 6th Amendment. Specifically, it holds that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall…have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” This right does not apply in civil cases. For example, if you want to sue the police for excessive use of force, you can only do so if you hire an attorney, or, alternatively, you can file the paperwork yourself.

In short, when the charges you face have the potential to result in the loss of your freedom, you have the right to an attorney. It does not matter whether or not you actually receive jail time. If imprisonment is even a possibility, then you have the right to a lawyer. 

You also have the right to hire an attorney of your choice. However, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. In Louisiana, you do not have the right to choose your court-appointed attorney.

Louisiana Violations of a Right to a Criminal Defense

The right to criminal defense is fundamental, and when it is improperly denied, a defendant is afforded recourse. Statements and evidence that are products of this violation are able to be excluded. 

Why a Right to a Criminal Defense Attorney in North Louisiana is Important 

A criminal defendant is facing the possibility of losing their right to freedom. Because of this, a criminal defense attorney is essential to ensure the defendant has somebody that understands the legal system in their corner. A criminal defense attorney often has a positive influence on a client's case. They work hard to prevent their client from being wrongfully convicted or receiving excessive sentences for any crime they are found guilty of. They make certain the constitutional rights of their clients are upheld. 

While the court is able to appoint an attorney to represent you if you are unable to afford one, it is almost always best to hire your own attorney whenever possible. A court-appointed attorney may not have the experience that your case requires, and even if they do, they often have a huge caseload which means your case may not receive the attention it needs. Also, as your attorney will be receiving very little, if any, pay for representing you, their time may be spent on more lucrative matters.

To What Standard is a Criminal Defense Attorney Held in North Louisiana?

While the 6th amendment does not explicitly hold that a criminal defendant has “effective assistance of counsel,” this is how it has been interpreted by courts, and if a defendant does not receive it, he may be granted a new trial.  

In Strickland v. Washington 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the court held that the proper standard for constitutional assistance of counsel is that the attorney must have provided reasonably effective assistance when considering all the circumstances. A convicted defendant has the burden of proving that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Furthermore, in order to obtain relief, such as another trial, a defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the proceeding would have been different.

Going through the criminal justice system can be overwhelming and frightening. At Lawrence Law Firm we are here to assist and to make sure your rights and freedoms are protected. Contact us for a Free Consultation either online or by calling 318.232.4000.

About the Author

Aaron D. Lawrence

Aaron is a Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney in Ruston, Louisiana. He received his Juris Doctor and Graduate Diploma in Comparative Law from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center. He received his Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences from the University of North Tex...

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