Criminal Identification Procedures in the 21st Century

Topics: Law, Criminal law, Powell v. Alabama Pages: 7 (1078 words) Published: October 20, 2012
Right to Counsel

William Bosch


Every citizen living in the United States has the right to be well represented even if

he or she is accused of a crime no individual can be accused of a crime without a fair trial

and legal representation. When a criminal is being prosecuted he or she has the right to

enjoy an assistance of counsel for his or her defense. This right is granted to every

defendant to have an attorney represent them as soon as they are taken into custody by

Law enforcement officials. “The six amendment is the primary source of right to

counsel”.(Zalman,2008) In this paper I will analyze the aspects of right to counsel. I

will also examine the development of right to counsel and when the right to counsel

attaches to criminal procedures, as well as the write to self-representation. In addition I

will define the role of an attorney in the criminal justice system as it applies to right to


The right to counsel first began with a reaction that America had, America did

not enjoy how the English practice. The English would deny their people the right to an

attorney in serious criminal cases. Defendants had to appear in court by themselves and

represent themselves. The trial of Queen Mary in 1586 was a case that illustrated how

unfair to say the least the English practice was. “ Queen Mary was charged with treason

for already conspiring to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. Mary asked for assistance of

Counsel, pleading that “the law and statutes of England are to me most unknown; I am

destitute counselors… and no man dareth step forth to be my advocate”.

(Winick,1989,787) Her request were denied, and Mary was summarily convicted and

executed by decapitation”. (legal-dictionary) In 1932 the interpretation of this law began

to change and instituted onto the six amendment as well as the fourteenth amendment, and

Due process law. This interpretation began to evolve in the case of Powell v. Alabama where nine black individuals were in a fight and accused of raping a white girl in a train in

Alabama on March 25, 1931. When these black kids were caught and taken into custody

and were not able to contact their parents. They were convicted of the crime and sentence

to death on April 6. The attorney that represented these young kids was unprepared, the

kids appealed and were able to get an attorney that build a case in their favor. The

Supreme court later reversed the conviction of these kids due to the violation of the

Due process rights by appointing these kids an unprepared attorney. Which was a

violation of their due process right. A decade later the Powell case the case of Betts v.

Brady in 1942 came about, this case was a setback to the incorporation of the six

Amendment. “Betts confirmed the special circumstances rule of Powell. Betts a

Farmhand, was indicted for non capital robbery. Not having the money to hire a lawyer,

he ask the judge for appointed counsel at his arraignment. The judge refused, saying that

the Carroll county court appointed counsel for indigent defendants only in prosecutions

for murder and rape. Betts pleaded not guilty and defended himself in a non-jury trial

before the judge”. (Zalman,2008) Betts was found guilty and sentence to eight years.

Justice Black a spirited dessent urged incorporation of the six amendment right to counsel

to the fourteenth amendment. He argued that no men or women can appropriately defend

Themselves in a criminal case without a proper defense counsel, he states that it’s unfair

and violation of the due process.

The development of right to counsel was implicated centuries ago as the United

States wanted to distance themselves from the English law. Like any other law it took

time to develop and evolve with time people began to see how the law began...

References: Right to counsel
Criminal Procedure: Constitution and Society, Fifth Edition, by Marvin Zalman.
Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright ©2008 by Pearson Education, Inc.
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