Gideon at 50: Representation in all Criminal Prosecutions (Part 3)

The Right to Counsel in State Courts

This 50-state Survey of Right to Counsel Standards documents how states decide when a qualifying individual charged with criminal wrongdoing is entitled to receive appointed counsel. Some states only appoint counsel in cases of actual incarceration following conviction, while others mandate appointed counsel based solely on the fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime. Other states fall between these standards and appoint counsel when a sentence of incarceration is authorized or likely to be imposed following conviction. [Released October 2016]


The survey also examines how states determine when in the trial process to appoint counsel, and in particular it explains the importance of counsel at first appearance. The report concludes that while a majority of states go beyond the “actual incarceration” standard for appointing counsel under the Sixth Amendment, there is still much work left to be done to ensure that states comply with the right to counsel statutes or court interpretations in place.

This project was made possible in part by support from the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ). Read more about the work of the FCJ and opportunities to support its efforts.


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