Sixth Amendment to

The United States Constitution

Bill of Rights


The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides valuable rights to people in criminal proceedings. The Sixth Amendment provides:

  • Right to a Speedy Trial
  • Right to a Public Trial
  • Right to an Impartial Jury of the State and District where the crime was committed
  • Right to Be Informed of the Nature and Cause of Accusation
  • Right to Confrontation of Witnesses
  • Right to Compulsory Process
  • Right to Assistance of Counsel

The full text of the Sixth Amendment is:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

Relevant cases:

Right to Counsel

Right to effective assistance of counsel and establishing the two prong test for whether deficient performance of trial counsel necessitates a new trial: (1) was counsel’s performance deficient, and (2) did the deficient performance so prejudice the defense as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial . Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). (Oyez case profile).

Right to effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining. Lafler v. Cooper, 132 U.S. 1376 (2012) (Oyez case profile) and Missouri v. Frye, 132 S.Ct. 1399 (2012) (Oyez case profile)

Right to Confrontation

“Where testimonial statements are at issue, the only indicium of reliability sufficient to satisfy constitutional demands is confrontation.” The admission of testimonial hearsay at a criminal trial violates that Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) (Oyez case profile).

Other case notes:

Right to Counsel

Texas applied the Supreme Court holdings in Lafler and Frye, and found that there was a right to effective assistance of counsel during the plea bargaining process and that counsel may be found ineffective for deficient performance in the plea bargaining process. Rodriguez v. State, 470 S.W.3d 823 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015).

Counsel’s performance is deficient where counsel fails to inform his client of the immigration consequences of a plea, and instead relies on the trial court’s general admonition regarding immigration consequences. The Fifth Circuit found that to show prejudice under Strickland and Padilla, the alien must show that the outcome (his removal from the country) would have been different had he proceeded to trial. U.S. v. Batamula, 823 F.3d 237 (5th Cir. 2016).


Where an analyst performed “crucial analysis determining the DNA match and testified to her own conclusions”, a lab director who relied on raw data computer generated data from other analysts’ DNA processing, could testify as to her findings. Parades v. State, 518 S.W.3d 546 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017).

Image Credit: From the New York Public Library Digital Collection