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Lucy, Esq.
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why does the state of south carolina disregard the sixth amendment

Resolved Question:

why does the state of south carolina disregard the sixth amendment to the constitution in child support cases. For example a young lady named Heather Smalls was sentenced to one year in jail in charleston for failing to pay child support. She was not provided with legal representation nor read her miranda rights when she was arrested.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
Hi Black Journey Man,

Miranda rights arise out of the Fifth and Sixth Amendment. However, Miranda rights do not attach until a person who is in custody is being interrogated by police. If there was no interrogation, there would have been no need to read your friend her Miranda rights.

In addition, the obligation to pay child support is by court order. If a person fails to comply with a court order, he is found in contempt of court and sentenced to jail and/or fines. The court can find the parent to be in criminal contempt of court, which triggers the right to counsel, and put him/her in jail as punishment. Alternatively, the court can find the parent in civil contempt and jail him/her until he/she complies. In that case, because imprisonment is coercive rather than criminal, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not attach.

The ACLU is actually aware of this issue and has taken it before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
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