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One of the rights law enforcement officers alert you to upon arrest is the right to an attorney. You may wonder how this works and why you have this right. 

The right to an attorney comes from the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

Basic details

The Constitution gives you the right to an attorney in a criminal trial. You can contact an attorney that you will pay yourself, or if you cannot afford one, the court will appoint you an attorney. 

To determine if you cannot afford to pay yourself, the court will require an analysis of your income and assets. You must meet set state standards for income levels to receive a court-appointed attorney. Court-appointed attorneys may be public defenders who handle large caseloads, so you may not have as much attention as you would get if you hire your own attorney. 

Type of attorney

You have the right to have an attorney who has knowledge and training in criminal law represent you in court. The attorney must be effective, which means he or she has the ability to properly defend you and build a case on your behalf. 

Your attorney must fight for you and commit to assisting you to defend against the charges. He or she must meet ethical standards and provide an adequate defense based on professional standards. 

Be aware that proving your attorney provided inadequate representation is not an easy task. If you have concerns about your representation, you should address them as soon as possible to ensure you do receive the best possible defense.