counsel | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Procedural Law

1. Legal advice.
2. A term used to refer to the lawyers in a case. Thus, the Right to Counsel means the right to have a lawyer.

Do not confuse this with the similar term council, which is a group of people that come together for some purpose, such as to deliberate and make decisions.

In the criminal justice system, counsel refers to the legal representation provided to a defendant by an attorney. This attorney can be hired by the defendant, or if the defendant cannot afford one, the court may appoint a public defender to represent them.

The right to counsel is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This amendment provides that defendants in criminal cases have the right to have the assistance of counsel for their defense. The right to counsel means that the defendant has the right to legal representation at every stage of the criminal justice process, including interrogation, arraignment, plea bargaining, trial, and sentencing.

The role of counsel is to ensure that the defendant’s rights are protected and that they receive a fair trial. This includes conducting legal research, interviewing witnesses, reviewing evidence, and representing the defendant in court. Counsel’s primary duty is to advocate for the defendant’s interests, and they must act in the best interest of the client at all times.

One of the most important roles of counsel is to advise the defendant on their legal rights and the potential consequences of their actions. They may also help the defendant understand the criminal justice process, including the charges they are facing, the penalties they may face, and their options for defense.

In some cases, counsel may negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on behalf of the defendant. A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to receive a more lenient sentence in exchange for their guilty plea.

In addition to representing the defendant in court, counsel may also assist with post-conviction proceedings, such as appeals or petitions for post-conviction relief. These are legal procedures that take place after a defendant has been convicted and sentenced.

It is important to note that counsel is not just a legal advisor but also a supporter of the defendant. Counsel can provide emotional support to the defendant and their family throughout the criminal justice process.

Learn More

On This Site

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 04/06/2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.