Criminal Law:

Rights if Convicted

Right to first appeal counsel: The right to assistance of counsel has been extended by the U.S. Supreme Court to include representation during the first appeal after conviction. This stage is sometimes called the "appeal as a matter of right." If an attorney cannot be afforded, as with the right to assistance of counsel at earlier stages such as preliminary hearing and trial, the government appoints an attorney to represent any criminal defendant who cannot afford a lawyer for a first appeal. For any subsequent appeal, the person usually must pay to hire an attorney. In many states, however, public interest or civil rights groups sometimes represent convicted persons for free at subsequent appeals.

Right against cruel and unusual punishment: Provided by the Eighth Amendment, individuals convicted of a crime have the right to be free of "cruel and unusual" punishment while in jail or prison. This means that after a criminal defendant is convicted and sentenced, the Constitution still acts to guarantee his or her fundamental rights concerning conditions of confinement and treatment by corrections personnel. While a universal definition of cruel and unusual punishment exists, any punishment that is clearly inhumane or that violates basic human dignity may be deemed "cruel and unusual."

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