Gideon v. Wainwright

U.S. Case Law

Legal Definition of Gideon v. Wainwright 

372 U.S. 335 (1963), held that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant's right to counsel and that an indigent defendant must be provided with a court-appointed lawyer in all felony cases. The case is important for overruling an earlier decision Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455 (1942), that prevented the extension of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to state as well as federal criminal proceedings. Gideon was frequently cited in later cases, as the Court continued to expand due process guarantees and other fundamental rights in trial procedures.

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