You have the right to an attorney.

If you cannot afford an attorney... you still may not get one.

Jailing poor people without a lawyer is unconstitutional, un-American, and unconscionable. Yet this happens to thousands of people every day.

Join Us - We Can Fix This

The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.

— Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

The right to the effective assistance of counsel is thus the right of the accused to require the prosecution's case to survive the crucible of meaningful adversarial testing.

— United States v. Cronic (1984)

Of all the rights that an accused person has, the right to be represented by counsel is by far the most pervasive, for it affects his ability to assert any other rights he may have.

— United States v. Cronic (1984)

The Right to Counsel in America Today

1 Nation, 50 States, 5 Inhabited Territories:
Each Different From The Rest


Constitutional Right


Defense Systems Trying to Provide That Right


State and Local Governments Trying to Fund That Right


Federal Oversight

State of the Sixth

The Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments require states to make sure that every indigent person receives effective representation. Yet across America, poor people are often given no attorney at all (actual denial of counsel) or an attorney who carries too many cases, has conflicts of interest, is unqualified, or who can be hired and fired by the judge (constructive denial of counsel). A system that does not provide effective attorneys results in wrongful convictions, over-incarceration, and lengthy litigation—all at the expense of taxpayers, institutional trust, and the fair and efficient administration of justice.