On March 18, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that every person accused of a crime should have a lawyer to defend them. But 60 years later, tens of thousands of people across the country still appear in court without counsel. This disregard for the Sixth Amendment and Gideon must end, and change needs to start on day one.
Imagine going to court for the first time without a lawyer by your side.
The Constitution promises that every arrested person will have prompt access to the courts and an attorney. Yet, 26 states do not guarantee the assistance of counsel at the first court appearance. And only five states require initial court appearances within 24 hours. These injustices must not stand.
The Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center launched Day One to end the unfair and dangerous delays that people face in seeing a judge and meeting with an attorney.
There are 26 states (highlighted here) that do not guarantee the assistance of counsel at the first court appearance. Ohio only requires this important legal protection in limited circumstances.
CHANGE STARTS ON DAY ONE
When a person is arrested, the first 24 hours are critical to ensuring fair process and preventing unnecessary harm. Before the end of day one, the courts must provide three essential things:
AN APPLICATION FOR
AN ATTORNEY FOR THE INITIAL
AN INITIAL COURT APPEARANCE
TO ASSESS RELEASE
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
When life and liberty is at stake, every second counts. Delaying access to counsel and making people wait days to see a judge is dangerous and costly. When the essential Day One protections are in place, people can avoid serious, long-term, and sometimes tragic consequences.
TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, INJURY
PLEADING GUILTY WITHOUT A LAWYER
LOSS OF HOUSING/
HARM TO FAMILIES AND CHILDREN
WASTE OF TAXPAYER RESOURCES
THE DAY ONE DIFFERENCE
Even brief delays in initial appearance impact public safety by increasing the likelihood of further involvement with the justice system. Compared to people held for 8-14 days, those released within 24 hours were:
36% less likely to be rearrested before trial
34% less likely to recidivate after sentence completion.
Before (without counsel)
After (with counsel)
After three New York Counties provided counsel at initial appearance, there were dramatic increases in release at initial appearance.
DAY ONE STORIES
Jessica Jauch's Story
Because the local court only met four times each year, Jessica Jauch spent 90 days in jail without seeing a judge or a lawyer. She was innocent all along.