When you get arrested in Arizona, law enforcement officers will read you your rights. Among them is the right to an attorney. This can be confusing because it is not really specified exactly what that means. It is not as straightforward as the right to remain silent, which you know means you do not have to answer questions or say anything. The right to an attorney is one that was gained in 1963 through a Supreme Court Decision, according to the National Constitution Center.

It is important to understand that the right to an attorney means you have the right to hire one and pay for one out of your pocket if you have the means to do so, but if you cannot afford one, it provides you the right to a public defender.  A public defender is provided to you for free if you meet income guidelines.

By giving you the right to an attorney, it assures that you have legal representation throughout your case. It also ensures that you do not get convicted because you did not know how to defend yourself or you did not have an understanding of the law. In essence, it guarantees a fair trial.

Consider it like this: if you were to play a game of tennis when you have never played the game before and your opponent is a professional tennis player, then that would be completely unfair. The pro would probably win hands down. The same is true if you have no knowledge of the law or legal system and you try to go into court to defend yourself against an attorney who has years of experience. This information is for education and is not legal advice.