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The Sixth Amendment provides several rights for defendants

When you are charged with a crime, or even if you are being investigated for a crime, there are a lot of things that you have to think about. It is vital that you understand a very important right that you have -- the right to have an attorney.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees that anyone who is facing criminal charges has the right to legal counsel. This right is extended to everyone who is facing charges and those who are being interrogated as part of a criminal investigation. The right to an attorney isn't limited only to proceedings in the courtroom.

You have the right to have an attorney present during interrogation by police officers, during all court proceedings, during a jury trial, during the sentencing phase and during an initial appeal of a conviction. You have to invoke your right to counsel by letting the officers who are with you know that you want to have an attorney present during all questioning.

There are several other things that the Sixth Amendment guarantees people who are facing criminal charges. This amendment also gives you the right to have a jury trial. During the course of the jury trial, you have the right to be present and to testify if you desire. You also have the right to cross-examine all witnesses called by the prosecution. This is also the amendment that requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime of which you are accused.

It is imperative that all criminal defendants know their rights as they go through the criminal justice system. Those rights often provide the basis for a defense.

Source: FindLaw, "What the Sixth Amendment Guarantees," accessed July 21, 2015

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