Most of our readers know that they have the right to an attorney when being questioned by police after an arrest, and during trial. But they may not realize that the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel applies to many proceedings that take place after a guilty verdict. This is important, because the defendant’s rights and freedom are likely at stake at that point.
In most cases where the defendant is found guilty, the first time his or her right to an attorney comes up post-trial is during sentencing. It is considered a “critical stage” of prosecution, so the Sixth Amendment applies. The defense attorney may be able to convince the court to hand down a lower sentence than what the prosecution asks for.