Law Office of John W. Noonan
925-463-3340 Call For A Free Initial Consultation Se Habla Español Available 24/7

How did Gideon v. Wainwright impact the criminal justice system?

As many of our California readers already know, you are afforded a number of rights under the U.S. Constitution. One of these rights is the right to court-appointed counsel which is afforded to you by the Sixth Amendment in federal prosecutions and extended to state trials under the Fourteenth Amendment.

It's a right we now take for granted here in the United States and one few people can imagine absent from criminal law. But did you know that prior to 1963, the right to a public defender wasn't applied in to every criminal trial? It wasn't until the U.S. Supreme Court decided on Gideon v. Wainwright that things changed.

So how did Gideon v. Wainwright impact the criminal justice system? Well, the case asked the Supreme Court an important question: was the Sixth Amendment right to court-appointed legal counsel in federal prosecutions made obligatory upon state courts by the Fourteenth Amendment? In other words, did the state courts have to follow the same "right to counsel" rule that the federal courts had to abide by? Here's how the Supreme Court answered this question:

The Supreme Court first had to look back at another case it had already decided on that raised the exact same question. In Betts v. Brady, the high court denied relief to the defendant, ruling that the refusal to appoint him counsel was not a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.

The Court agreed that if it applied Betts v. Brady to Gideon v. Wainwright, it would have to rule similarly because the cases were "nearly indistinguishable." Instead, the court reconsidered the nature of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments and concluded that by denying court-appointed counsel, the state courts were effectively denying a defendant the right to a fair trial.

This decision, which was made on March 18, 1963, had a huge impact on the criminal justice system because it required state courts to follow the same "right to counsel" rule federal courts had to follow. From that point on, a person with no legal background was no longer forced to defend themselves against crimes the state courts deem unworthy of court-appointed counsel, potentially putting their freedom in jeopardy because of their lack of understanding of the law.

Recent Case Results

  • Drunk Driving Offenses

    John was able to get client a reduction of charge of a DUI because of being a nurse it could mean her license.

    He secured a Drunk in Public , and she would attend a 3 month program. Additionally, the dmv hearing was also set aside.

    Both being a win for the client.

    Read More
  • Domestic Violence

    A client was arrested for a Felony Domestic Violence, could have devastated her potential for future employment. John was able to get the case dismissed. Client was thrilled.

    Read More
  • Juvenile Charges

    A juvenile was arrested for 2nd Degree Robbery. After 6 months the case was dismissed.

    A juvenile was arrested for Sexual Battery. After 6 months and 80 hours of Community service, the case was dismissed.

    Read More
  • Drunk Driving Offenses

    A client with a 1st DUI arrest. Fearing she would go to jail; lose her license for a year and lose her job. Got a wet reckless and minimal fines.

    Read More
  • Drug Charges

    A client with 4 Felony charges on a Transportation Charge, a Attempt to Sell, Possession of Marijuana, (50 pounds), Conspiracy Charge all where reduced to 1 Misdemeanor. No Jail.

    Client was charged with 6 Felony drug possessions. Facing jail time. The results: Client got a deferred entry of judgment and then dismissed.

    Client charged with several felony counts of possession of Marijuana with intent to sell. Client was involved in a medical marijuana grow. Case was reduced and later dismissed.

    Read More
  • Sex Crimes

    A client with alleged 2 Felony Sex charges and he faced jail and sex registration. The case was entirely dismissed.

    Client charged with prostitution; facing jail time and sex offender registration. Result: NO JAIL TIME AND NO SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION Deferred Entry of Judgment.

    Read More
  • Domestic Violence

    Client charged with domestic violence, with great bodily injury. Case reduced to a misdemeanor with time served.

    Read More
Email Us For A Response

Learn How We Can Help

Contact Information

Areas We Serve

Dublin Office
6379 Clark Avenue
Suite 250
Dublin, CA 94568

Phone: 925-463-3340
Fax: 925-479-0015
Dublin Law Office Map

Manteca Office
210 East Center Street
Suite 10
Manteca, CA 95336

Phone: 925-463-3340
Fax: 925-479-0015
Manteca Law Office Map

Back To Top