Go to navigation Go to content
Toll-Free: 888-733-2992
Phone: 605-361-9840

The Sixth Amendment Guarantees Important Rights If You Are Charged With a Crime

Jeff Cole
Connect with me
Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

If you are charged with a crime, the U.S. Constitution gives you important rights throughout your criminal proceedings to ensure that you are treated fairly. They afford you a wide range of protections, including limiting when the police can stop you, when they can search you, your vehicle, or your home, and what grounds they must have to arrest you. A number of these protections are contained in the Sixth Amendment.

How You Are Protected Under the Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment guarantees your rights throughout your criminal trial proceedings. These protections include:

  • Speedy and public trial. You have a right to a speedy trial. While no firm rule exists as to what constitutes a speedy trial, factors that determine this include the length of the delay, the reason for the delay, whether you asserted your right to a speedy trial, and how you are prejudiced by any delay. As to your right to a public trial, you also can request that the trial be closed if you believe you will not be treated fairly if it is open.
  • Impartial jury. Unless you could be sentenced to jail for six months or less, you generally have a right to a trial by jury instead of by the judge. In addition, you have a right to an unbiased jury from a pool of people that fairly represents a cross-section of your community.
  • Notice of charges. This means that you must be notified of the charges against you, including all the elements of the crimes you were arrested for.
  • Confronting and calling witnesses. You have a right to cross-examine witnesses testifying against you in court, rather than having their hearsay statements—their out-of-court statements—be used against you. You also have a right to call witnesses on your own behalf.
  • Right to an attorney. The Sixth Amendment gives you a right to representation by an attorney once you have been charged with a crime. The attorney must be reasonably effective in representing you. There is an exception to your right to an attorney if you are being charged with a crime where the penalty does not involve any jail time.

If you were charged with a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands your rights under the constitution and will use violations of these protections to defend against your charges. Start an online chat today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can assist you.


  • Observer
  • The Lennox Independent
  • Tea Weekly
  • AlcesterUnion & Hudsonite
  • The New Era
  • SuperLawyers