What is the 6th Amendment?
The 6th Amendment is about the Right to a fair Trial and it also addresses the subject of Witnesses. It is also called the Compulsory Process Clause or the Speedy Trial Clause.
Summary of the 6th Amendment
Summary: The 6th Amendment states that a person has the right to be told what they are charged with, have a fair and speedy trial by a jury, to have a lawyer during the trial and has the right to question witnesses against them and have the right to get their own witnesses to testify.
6th Amendment - Right to a fair Trial and the subject of Witnesses
George Washington was the first American President who served in office from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797. One of the key events during his presidency was the ratification of the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are collectively known as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, which includes the 6th amendment, was ratified (meaning approved) on December 15, 1791.
6th Amendment Simplified Summary
A simplified summary of the 6th Amendment is:
The Rights of Persons on Trial for Crimes
Cause and Reason for the 6th Amendment
The cause or reason for this addition to the Constitution was to ensure that Americans would receive a fast and fair trial with people who would defend them and speak in their favor. Under British law Americans did not have this right and many people suspected of committing a crime languished in a jail for years awaiting trial, only to be found 'not guilty' an released.
6th Amendment Meaning, Explanation and Summary
The outrage of the early colonists against the treatment, and the laws, imposed by the British led to the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. The meaning of the words and phrases in the 6th Amendment of the Constitution are explained as follows:
6th Amendment: Meaning of the Words of the Amendment
|6th Amendment:||"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial..." || ||Meaning: The 'right to a speedy trial' ensures that the government does not detain citizens for a long period of time languishing in jail before their trial. Delays would mean that, possibly innocent people, would be subjected to financial loss and damage to family and reputation. The trial would be seriously effected by delays because witnesses would have forgotten details and evidence lost or destroyed.|
|6th Amendment:||"... and public trial..."|| ||Meaning: A public trial ensures that the proceedings are witnessed in an open court and seen to be fair.|
|6th Amendment:||"...by an impartial jury..."|| ||Meaning: Members of a jury need to be unprejudiced and unbiased. This clause allows Defense lawyers to ask potential members of a jury various questions to ensure their impartiality. This selection process is called Voir Dire from French meaning "To speak the truth".|
|6th Amendment:||"...of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..."|| ||Meaning: This clause ensures that the accused can stand trial near the same location they were arrested and the crime committed.|
|6th Amendment:||"...which district shall have been previously ascertained by law...|| ||Meaning: The district complies with the requirements of law |
|6th Amendment:||"... and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation... "|| ||Meaning: The accused must be told what it is they're being tried for and why they have been accused. |
|6th Amendment:||"...to be confronted with the witnesses against him..."|| ||Meaning: The accused must be told the names of those who are testifying against them.|
| ||"...to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor..."|| ||Meaning: The accused has the right to provide witnesses to testify in their defense.|
| ||"...to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence..."|| ||Meaning: The accused has the right to the services of an attorney to defend the case, from the moment they are taken into police custody. Provision for this is made in the addition of the 5th Amendment to include reading the Miranda Rights which include the words:|
"...You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."
Meaning of the Words of the Sixth Amendment
Who wrote the 6th Amendment of the Constitution?
James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution", wrote the 6th Amendment in 1789 as one of the first 10 amendments collectively known as the Bill of Rights. The 6th amendment about the Right to a fair Trial and the subject of Witnesses was ratified on December 15, 1791.
6th Amendment Text - The Sixth Amendment
The original full text of the 6th Amendment of the Constitution is as follows:
6th Amendment Text
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 defence.
President George Washington Video
The article on the 6th Amendment of the Constitution provides the text, definition and history of one of the major achievements of his presidential term in office. The following video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 6th American President whose presidency spanned from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797.