An amendment to the United States Constitution ratified with the Bill of Rights in 1791. It guarantees the right to a speedy and public trial by jury, the right to be informed of the nature of the accusation, the right to confront witnesses, the right to counsel, and the right to compulsory process for obtaining favorable witnesses.
See also Pro se.
The Sixth Amendment safeguards to an accused who faces incarceration the right to counsel at all critical stages of the criminal process. Maine v. Moulton, 474 U. S. 159, 170 (1985); United States v. Wade, 388 U. S. 218, 224 (1967). The entry of a guilty plea, whether to a misdemeanor or a felony charge, ranks as a 'critical stage' at which the right to counsel adheres. Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U. S. 25, 34 (1972); White v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 59, 60 (1963) (per curiam). Waiver of the right to counsel, as of constitutional rights in the criminal process generally, must be a 'knowing, intelligent ac[t] done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances.' Brady v. United States, 397 U. S. 742, 748 (1970). The Sixth Amendment secures to a defendant who faces incarceration the right to counsel at all 'critical stages' of the criminal process. See, e.g., Maine v. Moulton, 474 U. S., at 170; United States v. Wade, 388 U. S., at 224. A plea hearing qualifies as a 'critical stage.' White v. Maryland, 373 U. S., at 60. A person accused of crime, however, may choose to forgo representation. While the Constitution 'does not force a lawyer upon a defendant,' Adams v. United States ex rel. McCann, 317 U. S. 269, 279 (1942), it does require that any waiver of the right to counsel be knowing, voluntary, and intelligent, see Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U. S. 458, 464 (1938).
The Supreme Court has described a waiver of counsel as intelligent when the defendant 'knows what he is doing and his choice is made with eyes open.' Adams, 317 U. S., at 279. The Court has not prescribed any formula or script to be read to a defendant who states that he elects to proceed without counsel. The information a defendant must possess in order to make an intelligent election, our decisions indicate, will depend on a range of case-specific factors, including the defendant's education or sophistication, the complex or easily grasped nature of the charge, and the stage of the proceeding. See Johnson, 304 U. S., at 464. As to waiver of trial counsel, it has said that before a defendant may be allowed to proceed pro se, he must be warned specifically of the hazards ahead. Faretta v. California, 422 U. S. 806 (1975), is instructive. The defendant in Faretta resisted counsel's aid, preferring to represent himself. The Court held that he had a constitutional right to self-representation. In recognizing that right, however, the Court cautioned: 'Although a defendant need not himself have the skill and experience of a lawyer in order competently and intelligently to choose self-representation, he should be made aware of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, so that the record will establish that he knows what he is doing ... .' Id., at 835 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Later, in Patterson v. Illinois, 487 U. S. 285 (1988), the Court elaborated on 'the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation' to which Faretta referred. '[A]t trial,' it observed, 'counsel is required to help even the most gifted layman adhere to the rules of procedure and evidence, comprehend the subtleties of voir dire, examine and cross-examine witnesses effectively ... , object to improper prosecution questions, and much more.' 487 U. S., at 299, n. 13. Warnings of the pitfalls of proceeding to trial without counsel must be 'rigorous[ly]' conveyed. Id., at 298. It also clarified that at earlier stages of the criminal process, a less searching or formal colloquy may suffice. Id., at 299. Patterson concerned post indictment questioning by police and prosecutor. At that stage of the case, the Court held, the warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436 (1966), adequately informed the defendant not only of his Fifth Amendment rights, but of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel as well. 487 U. S., at 293. Miranda warnings, effectively convey to a defendant his right to have counsel present during questioning. In addition, they inform him of the 'ultimate adverse consequence' of making uncounseled admissions, i.e., his statements may be used against him in any ensuing criminal proceeding. 487 U. S., at 293. The Miranda warnings 'also sufficed ... to let [the defendant] know what a lawyer could 'do for him,' ' namely, advise him to refrain from making statements that could prove damaging to his defense. 487 U. S., at 294. Patterson describes a 'pragmatic approach to the waiver question,' one that asks 'what purposes a lawyer can serve at the particular stage of the proceedings in question, and what assistance he could provide to an accused at that stage,' in order 'to determine the scope of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and the type of warnings and procedures that should be required before a waiver of that right will be recognized.' Id., at 298.
Less rigorous warnings pretrial, Patterson explained, not because pretrial proceedings are 'less important' than trial, but because, at that stage, 'the full dangers and disadvantages of self-representation ... are less substantial and more obvious to an accused than they are at trial.' Id., at 299 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The law ordinarily considers a waiver knowing, intelligent, and sufficiently aware if the defendant fully understands the nature of the right and how it would likely apply in general in the circumstances--even though the defendant may not know the specific detailed consequences of invoking it. United States v. Ruiz, 536 U. S. 622, 629 (2002) (emphasis in original). 'If [the defendant] ... lacked a full and complete appreciation of all of the consequences flowing from his waiver, it does not defeat the State's showing that the information it provided to him satisfied the constitutional minimum.' 487 U. S., at 294. In a collateral attack on an uncounseled conviction, it is the defendant's burden to prove that he did not competently and intelligently waive his right to the assistance of counsel. See Watts v. State, 257 N.W. 2d 70, 71 (Iowa 1977).
The Sixth Amendment requires effective assistance of counsel at critical stages of a criminal proceeding. Its protections are not designed simply to protect the trial, even though 'counsel's absence [in these stages] may derogate from the accused's right to a fair trial.' United States v. Wade, 388 U. S. 218, 226, 87 S. Ct. 1926, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1149 (1967). The constitutional guarantee applies to pretrial critical stages that are part of the whole course of a criminal proceeding, a proceeding in which defendants cannot be presumed to make critical decisions without counsel's advice. This is consistent, too, with the rule that defendants have a right to effective assistance of counsel on appeal, even though that cannot in any way be characterized as part of the trial. See, e.g., Halbert v. Michigan, 545 U. S. 605, 125 S. Ct. 2582, 162 L. Ed. 2d 552 (2005); Evitts v. Lucey, 469 U. S. 387, 105 S. Ct. 830, 83 L. Ed. 2d 821 (1985). The precedents also establish that there exists a right to counsel during sentencing in both noncapital, see Glover v. United States, 531 U. S. 198, 203-204, 121 S. Ct. 696, 148 L. Ed. 2d 604 (2001); Mempa v. Rhay , 389 U. S. 128, 88 S. Ct. 254, 19 L. Ed. 2d 336 (1967), and capital cases, see Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U. S. 510, 538, 123 S. Ct. 2527, 156 L. Ed. 2d 471 (2003). Even though sentencing does not concern the defendant's guilt or innocence, ineffective assistance of counsel during a sentencing hearing can result in Strickland prejudice because 'any amount of [additional] jail time has Sixth Amendment significance.' Glover, supra, at 203, 121 S. Ct. 696, 148 L. Ed. 2d 604.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees to criminal defendants the right to counsel in post-indictment interviews with law enforcement authorities. Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201, 205-07 (1964). Unlike the right the counsel secured under the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel comes into existence regardless of whether the defendant is in custody, so long as adverse judicial proceedings have been initiated against him. See Patterson v. Illinois, 487 U.S. 285, 290, 298-99 (1988). Once a suspect against whom such proceedings have begun indicates his desire for the assistance of counsel, the authorities must cease interrogation, and any further questioning on the crime for which the defendant was indicted is forbidden unless counsel is present. McNeil v. Wisconsin, 111 S. Ct. 2204, 2207-08 (1991). As clarified in Patterson, the initiation of adverse judicial proceedings does not erect an absolute bar to postindictment police interrogation in the absence of counsel; rather, a defendant may be questioned where he knowingly and intelligently waives his right to counsel, thus establishing ''an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege.'' Patterson, 487 U.S. at 292 (quoting Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 464 (1938)).
In Patterson, the Supreme Court further held that advising a defendant of his right to counsel by means of Miranda warnings establishes that the ensuing waiver is knowing and intelligent: As a general matter, . . . an accused who is admonished with the warnings prescribed by the Court in Miranda has been sufficiently apprised of the nature of his Sixth Amendment rights, and of the consequences of abandoning those rights, so that his waiver on this basis will be considered a knowing and intelligent one. Id. at 296 (citation omitted).
In McNeil, the Court held that, unlike the right to counsel embedded in the Fifth Amendment, an accused's invocation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel is offense specific and, hence, does not extend to police interrogations of unrelated offenses. McNeil, 111 S. Ct. at 2207-08; see also Maine v. Moulton, 474 U.S. 159, 180 n.16 (1985) ('Incriminating statements pertaining to other crimes, as to which the Sixth Amendment right has not yet attached, are . . . admissible at a trial of those offenses.').