The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to an attorney for those accused of a
crime. "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an
impartial jury, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be
confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and
to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."
The United States Supreme Court has interpreted that right to mean that the court must appoint an attorney to
represent a criminal defendant who cannot afford to hire one. The most significant decision on the right
to counsel in Supreme Court history was Gideon v. Wainwright1, in which the Court held the right of a
poor person in a criminal trial to have the assistance of an attorney is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial.