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Yakima and Kittitas County Criminal Defense Lawyer: Understanding Your Right to an Attorney

Posted by Tony Swartz | Oct 10, 2022

We cannot all be experts in the law. That said, if we get in trouble with the law (or even if we are just accused of something that may not have happened), we want someone who knows the law to represent us. Fortunately, the backbone of our legal system is each person's right to an attorney. This right is true regardless of whether you can afford one or not. Of course, it is always best to be able to choose who represents you in a court of law in Washington.

At Law Office of Tony Swartz, Tony represents clients who face criminal charges in Yakima or Ellensburg. He believes his clients make the best decisions for themselves when they are well-informed. Contact Tony at 509-293-7593 to schedule a free consultation - make sure your rights are preserved as you go through the criminal justice system.

Charged with a Crime in Yakima or Ellensburg? You Have a Right to an Attorney

The right to have an attorney when you are accused of a crime is found in the Constitution's 6th Amendment. Specifically, it holds that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall…have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” This right does not apply in civil cases. For example, if you want to sue the police for excessive use of force, you can only do so if you hire an attorney, or, alternatively, you can file the paperwork yourself.

In short, when the charges you face have the potential to result in the loss of your freedom, you have the right to an attorney. It does not matter whether or not you actually receive jail time. If imprisonment is even a possibility, then you have the right to a lawyer. 

You also have the right to hire an attorney of your choice. However, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. You are typically not able to choose your court-appointed attorney. It is also hard to qualify for a court-appointed attorney sometimes because judges have strict income guidelines they must follow.

Washington Violations of a Right to a Criminal Defense

The right to criminal defense is fundamental, and when it is erroneously denied, a defendant is afforded recourse. Statements and evidence that are products of this violation are able to be excluded. 

Why a Right to a Criminal Defense Attorney in Yakima or Ellensburg is Important 

A criminal defendant is facing the possibility of losing their right to freedom. Because of this, a criminal defense attorney is essential to ensure the defendant has somebody that understands the legal system in their corner. A criminal defense attorney often has a positive influence on a client's case. They work hard to prevent their client from being wrongfully convicted or receiving excessive sentences for any crime they are found guilty of. They make certain the constitutional rights of their clients are upheld. 

While the court is able to appoint an attorney to represent you if you are unable to afford one, it is almost always best to hire your own attorney whenever possible. A court-appointed attorney may not have the time that your case requires.

To What Standard is a Criminal Defense Attorney Held in Yakima or Ellensburg?

While the 6th amendment does not explicitly hold that a criminal defendant has “effective assistance of counsel,” this is how it has been interpreted by courts, and if a defendant does not receive it, he may be granted a new trial.  

In Strickland v. Washington 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the court held that the proper standard for constitutional assistance of counsel is that the attorney must have provided reasonably effective assistance when considering all the circumstances. A convicted defendant has the burden of proving that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Furthermore, in order to obtain relief, such as another trial, a defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the proceeding would have been different.

Going through the criminal justice system can be overwhelming and frightening. At Law Office of Tony Swartz, Tony is here to assist and to make sure your rights and freedoms are protected. Contact him for a free consultation by calling 509-293-7593.

About the Author

Tony Swartz

Tony Swartz is an experienced lawyer in Washington State. He has handled, most from start to finish, over 10,000 criminal cases. He has dealt with various types of civil cases, including administrative law hearings, Superior Court cases, District Court cases, and more.

Law Office of Tony Swartz

Tony Swartz is a lawyer who practices criminal defense in Kittitas County and Yakima County. He also represents clients with speeding tickets and other infractions. Call today for a free consultation.

Tony has lived in Ellensburg since 2005, other than a brief break for law school. He attended CWU and Willamette University College of Law.

Contact Info

​PO Box 684
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Office: 422 N Pine, Ellensburg WA 98926

[email protected]
509-293-7593
Fax: 509-295-8378

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