This last week, many families celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday. You might have celebrated by having a feast with turkey, potatoes, and crescent rolls or by watching the annual Macy’s parade in your pajamas. No matter how you celebrated, for most, the Thanksgiving holiday represents a time where you celebrate all of the things and/or people you are thankful for. So what are you thankful for this holiday season? I would guess that many people would say they are thankful to be surrounded by good friends and family, good health, a place they call home, or even man’s best friend, a dog. I know I am grateful for all of these things, most particularly, my wife and my dogs, Josie and Ellie. But, amongst the things I am grateful for, and perhaps you may consider this a little biased, I am truly grateful for representation by counsel.
The Constitution of the United States of America grants you a 5th and 6th amendment right to counsel. Perhaps you have never had to use your right to counsel, and thus you don’t understand the importance of this right, but it is important to know that the right to counsel is a fundamental right that could save you from fines and/or imprisonment. Invoking your right to counsel could also result in an award of damages and costs. A layperson can do their best to gain the legal knowledge needed to present their case but a layperson will find it more difficult to learn courtroom strategies that can help one win a case. A skilled lawyer comes equipped with the knowledge and ability to present a solid case.
To effectively invoke your right to counsel, you must do so unequivocally and in a timely manner. Although the police must make you aware of your right to counsel by reading you your Miranda rights, they are not required to ask you whether you would like to invoke your right to counsel. However, once you do invoke this right to counsel, police must respect your decision and police may not obtain statements to be used against you without your attorney present. In recent past, case law has been trying to attack this right.
Your right to have an attorney proceeds with you throughout all the critical stages of a prosecution. Your attorney can help you throughout the criminal proceedings by informing you of what happens at each stage of the investigation and prosecution, advising you on what actions you should take, ensuring that the police do not violate your constitutional rights through their conduct, and in presenting your case in the courtroom. In presenting your case, your attorney can investigate the facts and law of your case, interview witnesses, cross-examine adverse witnesses, object to improper questioning and/or evidence, and present legal defenses on your behalf.
It would be a difficult challenge and an uphill battle, to proceed pro se, meaning, without an attorney. In fact, a lot of attorneys hire outside representation to represent them when they are facing criminal charges, getting divorced, or protecting their rights. Use your fundamental right to counsel and consult attorney Daniel Selwa. Think of all the things you wouldn’t do yourself, perhaps you wouldn’t file your taxes without a tax consultant, or you wouldn’t hang lights in your house without an electrician. So, why would you confront the criminal process without an attorney who is experienced and skilled in the area of law to represent you?