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Legal Representation: Definition & Rights

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Legal representation is the process of lawyers representing their clients in court and the work that the lawyers do during the proceedings. This lesson discusses legal representation and the rights of clients.

Legal Representation

Let's say you end up getting accused of a crime, which you did not commit. However, now you are facing the fact that you need some sort of legal representation to assist you in court. Since court proceedings, legal terminology, and legal processes can be extremely confusing, it is important for you to have a lawyer or attorney to help navigate this process for you. This is what legal representation is. Essentially, legal representation refers to the whole process from start to finish in a lawyer fighting for you in court.

The United States Constitution specifically states in the 6th Amendment that people deserve ''to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.'' This means that in court if someone is accused of a crime, even if they cannot pay for an attorney, an attorney still has to take on the case and effectively argue for their client. The attorney is appointed and paid for by the government if the defendant does not have the ability to pay for the lawyer themselves. Due to the 6th amendment, there are several inalienable rights.

Legal Rights

Since defendants are required to be given the choice of legal representation, other rules have been put in place to make sure the representation is just.

  • Right to Hire Their Own Lawyer : This right means that if the defendant has the money and inclination they can hire their own attorney. They do not have to take a court appointed attorney.
  • Right to a Lawyer : Secondly, defendants have the right to have a lawyer even if they cannot pay for the lawyer.
  • Right to an Effective Attorney: This actually covers two aspects. The first is, someone has the right to a lawyer who is peaceable and helpful. So if an attorney ends up being aggressive and argumentative, then the defendant has the right to find or ask for another lawyer. Additionally, every person has a right to have a lawyer who is going to represent them. This means that the lawyer cannot do a bad job on purpose, in hopes of getting their client convicted.
  • Right for Pro Se Representation : Pro Se representation is the right to represent oneself in course without an attorney. Although many lawyers and judges do not suggest going to court without some form of legal representation, a defendant can go to court proceedings and argue their own case.

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