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Your rights under the Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment is crucial to you if you're accused of a crime and going to trial to face the charges. It helps to shape your rights in the courtroom, and there are cases in which violations of this amendment can get the charges dismissed.

The first thing that the Sixth does is to guarantee you the right to legal representation. You can represent yourself if you want, but you don't have to on any grounds. This has been done to make sure that everyone has representation and the same fair shot in court.

The amendment also says that you should get a "speedy" trial. This is loosely defined as a reasonable amount of time. The rule is in place so that the government cannot simply hold you indefinitely, without trial, essentially locking you up as if you were a criminal even though you hadn't been convicted.

That being said, there are reasons for delays, and trials don't always happen as fast as people would like. Cases can be dismissed in extreme situations, but typically won't be for understandable delays.

Furthermore, the jury that sees your case has to be impartial and unbiased. The goal is for jurors who know nothing about you, other than the facts of the case, to make a decision based only on those facts alone. They're not supposed to base their decisions on outside factors, such as your religion, your race or similar factors.

Do you think your Sixth Amendment rights have been violated? If they have, you need to know what legal options are open to you, either to ensure they aren't violated going forward or to ask for a dismissal on those grounds.

Source: FIndLaw, "Right to a Speedy Jury Trial," accessed Nov. 22, 2016

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