Right to Free Legal Aid Case Law

Recognizing that legal representation is fundamental to a fair trial, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) that the Sixth Amendment guarantees that “in all prosecutions the accused has the right to counsel in his defence.” [i] In the unanimous decision of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Black wrote, “Lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries.” [ii] Facts This case concerned an application for special leave to appeal the High Court`s three-year prison sentence in a fraud case. Results In rejecting the request for special leave, the court dealt with two issues arising from the facts of the case: a lenient sentence for economic crimes and the right to appeal. In considering the latter, the Court concluded that there was a constitutional right to legal aid. The Court noted that free legal services at the level of the court of first instance and appeal, where deprivation of life or personal liberty is at stake, are a necessary component of procedural justice. If a prisoner is prevented from engaging a lawyer for reasons such as poverty or isolation, the court shall, if the circumstances of the case, the severity of the sentence and the objectives of justice so require, appoint a competent lawyer to defend the detainee, unless the party objects. These services must be paid for by the State. Accused persons who are prosecuted and who do not have the means to hire a lawyer are not only provided with legal aid in connection with the charges, but also with legal representation, either in the form of court-appointed lawyers or, in the absence of provisions or due to procedural overloads, a court-appointed lawyer.

Legal aid is governed by the Access to Justice Act 1999 and complementary legislation, the most recent of which is the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Some complain that cuts to legal aid have prevented the poorest from obtaining justice. [18] In the past, legal aid has played an important role in ensuring respect for economic, social and cultural rights related to social security, housing, social protection, health and education services, which may be provided publicly or privately, as well as labour law and anti-discrimination legislation. Lawyers such as Mauro Cappelletti argue that legal aid is essential to enable individuals to access justice by enabling the individual legal application of economic, social and cultural rights. His views developed in the second half of the 20th century, when democracies with capitalist economies established liberal welfare states centered on the individual. States acted as entrepreneurs and service providers within a free market philosophy that emphasized the citizen as a consumer. This has led to an emphasis on individual application in order to achieve the realization of rights for all. [1] Facts This was an appeal against a death sentence for the crime of terrorism. Views The Court reaffirmed that the right of access to legal aid arises when a person arrested in connection with a recognizable offence is brought before a judge for the first time. The judge is obliged to fully inform the defendant of this right, and failure to comply with this obligation would render the judge responsible for a division case. However, the Court noted that while failure to provide counsel at the beginning of the proceedings would affect the proceedings and the resulting sentence, failure to provide counsel at the pre-trial stage might not have the same consequences. The accused may have the right to seek compensation from the State, but the proceedings are not vitiated by irregularities unless it is proved that this omission caused pecuniary damage to the accused during the proceedings.

U.S. veterans with mental and physical disabilities may be eligible for free legal assistance on issues ranging from rent assistance to child visitation issues. For eligibility criteria, check with your local veterans` association to see if you or a member of your household is eligible for free legal aid for a range of services. Section 39A of the Constitution of India provides for equal justice and free legal aid: In the 20th century, legal aid developed alongside progressive principles; It was often supported by advocacy members who felt it was their responsibility to care for low-income people. Legal aid was motivated by what lawyers could offer to meet the “legal needs” of those they identified as poor, marginalized or discriminated against.