Supreme Court: Criminal Defendants Can Use Their Own Funds to Hire Counsel

May 5, 2016

On March 30, 2016, a divided U.S. Supreme Court decided Luis v. United States, which stands for the proposition that a criminal defendant may use his or her own legitimate, untainted assets (i.e., funds not traceable to a criminal offense) in order to retain counsel of choice, even if that would result in the defendant having insufficient funds to pay restitution and other financial penalties if convicted at the conclusion of the case. Not surprisingly, the court located this right in the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a criminal defendant’s right to counsel. While four of the five judges in the majority recognized that the government has a competing interest in making crime victims whole, the court viewed this interest as less substantial than the constitutionally protected right to counsel.

To continue reading Harry Sandick, Daniel Ruzumna and Cassye Cole's article from Bloomberg BNA’s Criminal Law Reporter, please click here.