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Why is this sentence "You have the right to an attorney" correct? "You have the right to an attorney." I saw this sentence written somewhere. And they say it is correct sentence. But it strikes me as that a verb is somehow left out in there. I think it should be either "You have the right to appoint an attorney." or "You have the right to hire an attorney." How could this sentence without a supine work? Could you possibly explain?
Jun 12, 2015 5:14 AM
Answers · 5
(Part 2:) Now that I have explained the background, I will do my best to explain the grammar. Usually, when you say that you have "a right to", what follows is a verb - a right to do something. A right to vote. A right to practice a religion. "A right to an attorney" essentially means the "right to talk to an attorney." (Other verbs you could use would be, to consult with an attorney or be represented by an attorney.) One way you can think of this phrase is that the part "talk to" is omitted because it is implied. It is so obvious that it does not need to be said. I should note that some "Miranda warnings" actually are "You have the right to talk to an attorney" and not just "You have the right to an attorney." It is also common, however, when referring to higher concepts, to say that a person has "a right to" some thing. A right to freedom. A right to life. In this sense, in the US, you have the right to an attorney. "An attorney" here is used to mean not just a specific, actual person but the concept of a tool of the legal justice system with the sole purpose of assisting you. If you can think about it that way, it may be better not to include the verb "to talk" or another verb, because the right to an attorney goes beyond just talking to an attorney. If you say that you have the "right to an attorney" you have the right, not just to talk to an attorney, but also to consult with an attorney, to be assisted by an attorney, to be represented by an attorney, to have an attorney present when being questioned, etc. That was probably a much longer explanation that you wanted, but I hope it was helpful to you. If it did not make sense, or you need more clarification, let me know. It was a really intelligent, thoughtful question! Good luck!
June 12, 2015
You can say this phrase in any of those forms, but I think the reason why "hire" or "appoint" are not included in the sentence, is that that idea is already understood based on the context of the sentence. In English, ideas that are already clearly understood may sometimes be left out. Also, this phrase is common in the legal system and (for the US at least) is part of the Miranda Warning which is a statement given to people who are in the process of being arrested by the police.
June 12, 2015
In America, "You have the right to an attorney" is the third sentence of what we call the "Miranda warning." (I'll tell you why in a minute.) A "Miranda warning" is the term for a short, about four sentence statement that a police officer must say to a suspect of a crime when he or she is arrested or is being questioned by the police. The purpose of the "Miranda warning" is to advise criminal suspects of their constitutional rights. In particular, they have the right not to incriminate themselves. (This means that a police cannot force me to admit that I committed a crime. The police can gather other evidence and other witnesses, but if I do not want to confess, I do not have to.) In order to make sure that the suspect actually does know he or she has this right, the courts have decided that the police must tell all suspects that they have these rights, and a suspect must agree that he or she understands these rights if he or she still wants to talk to the police without an attorney. If police officers do not tell suspects that they have these rights, and then they confess, the government will not be allowed to tell the jury that the suspect admitted to committing the crime. The government will have to use other evidence to try to convict them, such as witnesses or physical or documentary evidence. The reason it is called a "Miranda warning" is because this rule comes from a very important court case, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which was called "Miranda v. [versus] Arizona" or "Miranda" for short. In a popular crime drama television show, Law and Order, you often hear a police officer say: "You have the right to be silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you." Afterwards, they will ask: "Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?" (Answer is too long... I have to break it up in two parts)
June 12, 2015
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