Sixth Amendment

  • Confrontation
    • Many people are familiar with the term “hearsay,” which basically means that one person may not testify as to what another person said at trial.  However, there are many exceptions to that general rule which prosecutors routinely argue justify the introduction of such unreliable testimony.  The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment protects people from secondary accusations, by guaranteeing one charged with a crime the opportunity to challenge their accuser under oath.  This right has a wide range of applications, and can be of particular importance when a prosecutor seeks to introduce a scientific report concerning DNA, narcotics, or blood alcohol content (BAC).
  • Right to Counsel
    • While many people are familiar with their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and “Miranda rights,” few are aware that the Sixth Amendment affords them protection against unconstitutional police interrogations as well.  The Sixth Amendment right to counsel prohibits police from questioning an unwilling suspect without an attorney present, anytime after the person has been charged with a crime.
  • Speedy Trial
    • The Sixth Amendment affords the accused a right to a “speedy trial,” and the only remedy for a violation of this right is the permanent dismissal of all charges.  While there is no specific time delineated under the Constitution, Virginia law states that an accused must be brought to trial within five months if held in custody, and nine months if not.  A violation of this statutory protection will also result in the dismissal of all charges. Va. Code §19.2-243 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+19.2-243)