YOUR RIGHT TO A LAWYER IN CRIMINAL CASES
I'm giving you solid advice for anyone who's been recently arrested or is under police investigation.
BackgroundEveryone has a right to a lawyer in a criminal case. I will give you the history of how that came to be.
Clarence Earl Gideon was an eighth-grade dropout who drifted from place to place, and spent lots of time in and out of jail for petty, nonviolent crimes. In Bay County, Florida, Mr. Gideon was arrested for felony breaking and entering. Bay County is in the "panhandle" part of Florida, and its largest city is Panama City.
At trial, Mr. Gideon appeared in court without a lawyer. He asked the trial judge to appoint a lawyer for him because he couldn't afford a lawyer. The judge denied the request because Florida law only permitted appointment of a lawyer for indigent (poor) defendants who were charged with "capital" criminal offenses. A "capital" offense is a crime which is punishable by death. A court-ordered sentence of death is called "capital punishment." An example of a capital offense is first-degree murder (premeditated murder) in state courts. At trial, Mr. Gideon represented himself vigorously by cross-examining the prosecutor's witnesses and actually making an opening and closing arguments to the jury. The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Mr. Gideon appealed his conviction by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Florida Supreme Court, where he contested the conviction on the grounds that he had a constitutional right to a lawyer. The Florida Supreme Court denied his petition. Mr. Gideon then filed a handwritten petition to the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gideon did not have a great deal of formal education, but he was smart. He knew that what's legal isn't always what's right. The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. In Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right to counsel guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S Constitution applies to defendants in all state courts, and a lawyer must be provided to any person charged with a crime who is too poor to hire a lawyer. The U.S. Supreme Court stated that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of counsel applies to all states through the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the right to a lawyer in all criminal cases is not just an important right but a fundamental right essential to a fair trial.
Why You Need a LawyerA cop will reach deep into his bag of tricks to obtain incriminating statements from a person being interrogated, and those statements are then admitted into evidence at the person's criminal trial. I can't emphasize enough that you should NEVER provide a statement if you are the accused, and NEVER provide a statement without a lawyer by your side if you're under investigation. Police are permitted to lie and trick you as an "investigative technique." It doesn't matter if you are a high school dropout or a PhD in biophysics, you should not go it alone. If you've been arrested and you consult with me in or out of jail, I would advise you to keep your mouth closed. I'm blunt and direct because I have to be---my client's freedom ( and life as he knows it) is at stake. If I take on a case, I'm in it to win it. Often times I can't afford to be as polished or genteel as say, for purpose of example only, a lawyer practicing wills and estates law--- the stakes are much higher for my client. If you're facing criminal charges, you don't want a milk toast or rice cake representing you. I've been licensed for 34 years and out of all the cases I tried before a jury, I lost only two (2). In one case, my client and his daughter had a falling out, and she testified against him resulting in a conviction for reckless driving involving serious bodily injury. In the other, my client failed to strictly follow my advice and a fellow jail inmate testified against him at trial. Over my career, I've been hired by lawyers in Puerto Rico and Columbia. My job was to first meet with detained clients arrested for drug trafficking (or detained for suspicion of trafficking) until those lawyers can arrive in the U.S. to meet with their clients. I would give any foreign national in the same situation the same advice--- keep your mouth closed and assume everything you do and say is being recorded by video and audio. The only exception to recording of inmates is the attorney conference.