ARGERSINGER v. HAMLIN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
70-5015
Petitioner 
Argersinger
Respondent 
Hamlin
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner pro hac vice)
(Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae on the reargument urging reversal)
(Reargued the cause for the respondent)
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Term:
Facts of the Case 

Jon Argersinger was an indigent charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor in the State of Florida. The charge carried with it a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. During the bench trial in which he was convicted and sentenced to serve ninety days in jail, Argersinger was not represented by an attorney.

Question 

Do the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee a right to counsel to defendants who are accused of committing misdemeanors?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Argersinger, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Right to Counsel

In Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) the Court found that the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments required states to provide an attorney to indigent defendants in cases involving serious crimes. In this case, a unanimous Court extended that right to cover defendants charged with misdemeanors who faced the possibility of a jail sentence. Justice Douglas's plurality opinion described the intricacies involved in misdemeanor charges and the danger that unrepresented defendants may fall victim to "assembly-line justice." Thus, in order to guarantee fairness in trials involving potential jail time, no matter how petty the charge, the Court found that the state was obligated to provide the accused with counsel.

Cite this Page
ARGERSINGER v. HAMLIN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 06 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_5015>.
ARGERSINGER v. HAMLIN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_5015 (last visited July 6, 2014).
"ARGERSINGER v. HAMLIN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 6, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_5015.