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Gideon was charged with breaking and entering with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, which is a felony under Florida law. At trial, Gideon appeared in court without an attorney. In open court, he asked the judge to appoint counsel for him because he could not afford an attorney.
The Florida Supreme Court denied Gideon's petition. Gideon next filed a handwritten petition in the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court agreed to hear the case to resolve the question of whether the right to counsel guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution applies to defendants in state court.
Clarence E. Gideon v. Louie L. Wainwright, Corrections Director. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a fundamental right applied to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution's due process clause, and requires that indigent criminal defendants be provided counsel at trial.
Gideon represented himself in trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. Gideon filed a habeas corpus petition in the Florida Supreme Court and argued that the trial court's decision violated his constitutional right to be represented by counsel.
Landmark Case. Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) is a landmark U.S. Supreme Courtdecision. The Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment guarantee of counsel is a fundamental right made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
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