Understanding Your Right to an Attorney


We cannot all be experts in the law. That said, if we get in trouble with the law (or are accused of it), or even if law enforcement just knocks on our door, we want someone who knows the law to represent us. Fortunately, the backbone of our legal system is each person's right to an attorney. This right is true regardless of whether you can afford one or not.

At Carmichael Ellis & Brock, our criminal defense lawyers represent clients who face criminal charges or investigations in Virginia, DC, or federal courts across the country. We believe our clients make the best decisions for themselves when they are well-formed. So, we explain what your right to an attorney means. Contact us at 703-684-7908 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and to make sure your rights are preserved as you go through the criminal justice system.

Charged with a Crime? You Have a Right to an Attorney

The right to have an attorney when you are accused of a crime is found in the Sixth Amendmhttps://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/sixth_amendmentent to the U.S. Constitution. It holds that

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall… have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

This right does not apply in civil cases. For example, if you want to sue the police for excessive use of force, you can only do so if you hire an attorney, or, alternatively, you can file the paperwork yourself.

In short, when the charges you face have the potential to result in the loss of your freedom, you have the right to an attorney. It does not matter whether or not you actually receive jail time. If imprisonment is even a possibility, then you have the right to a lawyer. 

You also have the right to hire an attorney of your choice. However, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. You are typically not able to choose your court-appointed attorney.

Violations of a Right to a Criminal Defense

The right to criminal defense is fundamental, and when it is erroneously denied, a defendant is afforded recourse. Statements and evidence that are products of this violation are able to be excluded. 

The Right to a Criminal Defense Attorney is Important 

A criminal defendant is facing the possibility of losing their right to freedom. Because of this, a criminal defense attorney is essential to ensure the defendant has somebody that understands the legal system in their corner. A criminal defense attorney often has a positive influence on a client's case. They work hard to prevent their client from being wrongfully convicted or receiving excessive sentences for any crime they are found guilty of. They make certain the constitutional rights of their clients are upheld. 

While the court is able to appoint an attorney to represent you if you are unable to afford one, you also have the option to hire counsel of your choice. Selecting your criminal defense attorney is an important process. You want someone who communicates with you and whose experience and expertise you trust.

Going through the criminal legal system can be overwhelming and frightening. At Carmichael Ellis & Brock we are here to assist and to make sure your rights and freedoms are protected. Contact us for a free 30-minute either online or by calling 703-684-7908.

What Happens Now?

If you are incarcerated, we will contact you in the jail where you are held, and we will remain in contact throughout the pendency of your case. If you are able to come in to the office, we will ask you to come meet in person as soon as possible. Our approach to defense is zealous, organized, and fast-paced, and we look forward to helping you.


Carmichael Ellis & Brock, PLLC is committed to representing you in criminal, military, security clearance, medical malpractice, personal injury, and product liability cases.