What are the Miranda Rights? Appointed Counsel
“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” – The Miranda Warning
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right… to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” – The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution
The last right mentioned in most Miranda Warnings is the right to have counsel appointed to you. Every defendant has the right to an attorney. However, most defendants cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent them. For a long time, this meant many poor defendants were left to defend themselves. Defendants who represent themselves end up with worse outcomes than the defendants able to afford an attorney. Starting in the 1960’s the United States Supreme Court took posted a series of opinions that directly addressed recognizing the right to an appointed attorney. This led to the creation of Public Defenders in states across the country.
Today, every state has a state-funded public defender program. These programs help millions of Americans every year, with as many as four in five criminal defendants using a public defender. The right to an appointed attorney is vital to the achieving a just legal system. Public defenders are vital to our legal system, and they work tirelessly to help their defendants. Without these public defenders, many innocent but poor defendants could face jail time.
If resources are tight, and you aren’t sure if you can afford an attorney, consider applying for a public defender. Our firm even takes on cases for the public defender's office. Their qualifications are available online, and they can provide you with the advice and counsel you need to defend your rights. If you would like to know more about your rights as a criminal defendant, check out our previous entries on the Miranda Rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.