Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary

Right To Counsel

The right of criminal defendants to have a lawyer appointed by the court to represent them if the defendants cannot afford to hire one. The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees this right to those charged with federal crimes; the U.S. Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainright extended this right to those charged with state offenses. The right to counsel applies only where the defendant faces the possibility of imprisonment, and only at trial and through the first appeal, if the defendant is convicted. Juveniles are also entitled to counsel.