The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a very important amendment in Colorado criminal law and beyond. In criminal defense, there are three main areas of influence that the Sixth Amendment has.
The Right to Counsel. Under the Sixth Amendment, a criminal defendant has the right to effective assistance of counsel, whether private or public. In Colorado, even if you are too financially limited to hire an attorney, one will be provided to you, free of charge, if your charge carries the possibility of jail time. However, public defenders are only assigned to people who meet certain financial limitations. Contact us today to make sure your rights are being protected.
The Right to a Speedy, Public trial. Under the Sixth Amendment, a person must be tried by the state within a set, limited amount of time. The state, once it brings charges, cannot hold an individual under perpetual and indefinite threat of prosecution. If the state fails to try an individual within a certain amount of time, called “speedy trial,” then the prosecution must be dismissed. Although the Constitution does not lay out an express time limit in which the government must bring a person to trial, Colorado state law does. With a few exceptions, including waiver or unavailability of a witness, the state must bring a person to trial within six months from the date that a person enters a not guilty plea. For municipal offenses, the city must bring a person to trial is 91 days.
The Right to Confrontation. Under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, a defendant must be afforded the opportunity to confront his accusers at trial through cross-examination. In the vast majority of circumstances, an individual cannot be subjected to accusations or evidence against him without being able to put those accusers or pieces of evidence up to scrutiny before a jury of his peers.Our experienced Denver defense attorneys shine on cross-examination and put the state’s evidence to the test. Contact us today.
Other Sixth Amendment Rights. There exist additional rights a criminal defendant has under the Sixth Amendment. If you are facing prosecution for a crime in Colorado, contact Denver criminal defense attorney Jacob E. Martinez today to discuss your case, and how the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will protect you.
COVID 19 and Speedy Trial: Many people have had their cases continued as a result of COVID 19 and have wondered if their rights were violated. The answer, unfortunately, is no. The Colorado Supreme Court has empowered courts to continue their cases for 90 days, without that time period counting toward the speedy trial period. The reasoning behind this opinion centers around the 6th Amendment. A trial cannot be public if courthouses are closed. Witnesses may be less likely to show up and testify. Juror may be less willing to show up and perform their civic duties. In addition, how can courts maintain safe social distancing? A standard misdemeanor trial will require around 40 people to be present for jury selection. Courthouses were not designed to allow that many people to stay 6 feet apart. Thus, the Supreme Court issued its order and allowed for 90 days to not count against the time period in which the state must bring you to trial. Your right to a speedy trial is an important one and our experienced Denver criminal defense attorneys will fight to protect not only that right but all of your rights. Contact us today.
COVID 19 and Confrontation: Similarly, COVID 19 has impacted how any court proceedings occur. As of the writing of this post, trials are proceeding under limited capacity. With a mask mandate, the issue of confrontation was thrust to the forefront. Lawyers rely on facial cues to determine whether a witness is lying or if more questions need to be asked. Juries rely on facial features, in part, to determine credibility. Similarly, the jury needs to be able to observe the defendant and his reactions throughout trial. A smart and experienced lawyer will fight to ensure that your right to confrontation is protected, even in the times of a pandemic.