The Significance of the Right to Effective Counsel in a Criminal Case and Powell

Topics: United States Constitution, Criminal law, Rights of the accused Pages: 4 (1799 words) Published: January 8, 2014

The Significance of the Right to Effective Counsel in a Criminal Case and Powell v. Alabama The right to counsel is a fundamental common law principle that aims to set a fair criminal trial. The right to have the assistance of counsel for defence is the right of a criminal defendant to have a lawyer assist in his defence, even if he cannot afford one. This right comes from a variety of sources, the first one being the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that sets forth rights related to criminal prosecutions. 1

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”2

The Sixth Amendment aims to provide criminal defendants with a right to counsel since a criminal conviction is likely to produce substantial deprivations due to the law’s complexity. The proper application of this right however was the result of decades of legal debate and outcomes of highly controversial criminal cases. Powell v.Alabama 287 U.S. 45 (1932) decision was critical in the process of determining that in a capital trial, the defendant must be given access to counsel upon his or her own request as part of due process. Powell v. Alabama case was a pioneer in this area of law since it was the first Court decision that reversed a state criminal conviction for a violation of criminal procedural provision of the United States Bill of Rights. The Court stated the justification for the right to counsel in criminal proceedings in the celebrated case...

Bibliography: California Law Review. Volume 48/ Issue 3. The Right to Counsel [Online Archive] Available at: http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3162&context=californialawreview
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Powell+vs+alabama (Accessed: 9 November 2013)
Cornell Law Review. Powell v. Alabama 100 U.S. 1 224 Ala. 524, 531, 540, reversed. [Available at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0287_0045_ZS.html (Accessed: 9 November 2013)
Del Carmen, R. (2010). Criminal Procedure: Law and Practice: Law And Practice. Ebook. [Online] Available at: http://books.google.com.tr/books?id=9ctbsWu6vzAC&pg=PA464&lpg=PA464&dq=importance+of+right+to+counsel+in+a+criminal+case+powell+alabama&source=bl&ots=UCzbwHuwXk&sig=i8ogNYxhhGHIDYm0bnuz8FvnlNU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0Rt-UsvfA82KswalyICICg&ved=0CCMQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=importance%20of%20right%20to%20counsel%20in%20a%20criminal%20case%20powell%20alabama&f=falsehttp://books.google.com.tr/books?id=9ctbsWu6vzAC&pg=PA464&lpg=PA464&dq=importance+of+right+to+counsel+in+a+criminal+case+powell+alabama&source=bl&ots=UCzbwHuwXk&sig=i8ogNYxhhGHIDYm0bnuz8FvnlNU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0Rt-UsvfA82KswalyICICg&ved=0CCMQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=importance%20of%20right%20to%20counsel%20in%20a%20criminal%20case%20powell%20alabama&f=false
Mosher, J. (2013). ‘Understanding Powell v. Alabama’ Sixth Amendment Center, 17 January [Online]. Available at: http://sixthamendment.org/understanding-powell-v-alabama/ (Accessed: 9 November 2013)
Powell v. Alabama [Online] http://kids.laws.com/powell-v-alabama (Accessed: 9 November 2013)
Powell v. Alabama [Online] http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Powell+vs+alabama (Accessed: 9 November 2013)
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