Alabama v. Shelton
United States Supreme Court
535 U.S. 654 (2002)
Shelton (defendant) represented himself at a bench trial and was convicted of third-degree assault. He was given a new trial before a jury, again represented himself, and was again convicted. The court warned Shelton about the perils of representing himself but never appointed counsel for him at the state’s expense. The court sentenced Shelton to 30 days in county prison but immediately suspended the sentence and gave him probation contingent on his payment of court costs. Shelton appealed and argued that because the court did not offer to appoint counsel for him at the state’s expense when there was a chance that he would have to serve the prison term, his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had been violated. The appellate court held that Shelton’s Sixth Amendment right had not been violated because a suspended sentence does not trigger the right to appointed counsel. The Supreme Court of Alabama reversed, holding that a suspended sentence does trigger the right to counsel. The court affirmed Sheldon’s conviction but invalidated the portion of his sentence that imposed prison time. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to settle the issue of whether a conditional or suspended sentence entitles the defendant to counsel under the Sixth Amendment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)
Dissent (Scalia, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 177,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.