You Have The Right To An Attorney

By David Mueller, Criminal Defense Attorney

In my last few blogs I have been trying to debunk some of the myths regarding the use of one’s Miranda rights. We’ve covered what general protections the rights provide and examined in greater detail the right to remain silent. This week I’d like to address your right to an attorney.

As mentioned in my previous posts, popular culture myths abound when it comes to understanding the Miranda rights. Thanks to movies and television, many people are afraid to assert one of their most important rights when dealing with the police: the right to an attorney. Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they assert their right to an attorney when dealing with the police, this will make them look guilty.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • The fact that you ask for an attorney cannot be used against you in a criminal case. The police do not decide who is guilty or innocent; courts and juries do. Your decision to request a criminal defense attorney is not evidence. It cannot, and will not, be used against you in a court of law. Period.
  • If the police are interrogating you, the odds are very high that they already suspect you of doing something wrong. The reason you are being interrogated is to attempt to develop evidence of what they already suspect. The simple reality is that if the police have enough evidence to charge you, they likely will; if they do not have enough evidence, they can’t. Your decision to ask for an attorney is not evidence, and the effect it may have on the opinions of the police should not be the focus of your concern. Your first and only focus should be on getting an attorney to protect your rights.
  • Innocent people need attorneys, too. Even if you are innocent and can prove it, there is a right and a wrong way to communicate that information to law enforcement, or to the court if necessary. Only an attorney will be able to advise you on the best way to accomplish this, and sharing any information without an attorney present is taking a grave risk that your words may come back to haunt you in very unexpected ways.

As I stressed in last week’s blog, under no circumstances should you submit to interrogation without first speaking to an attorney. Keep in mind, however, that simply asking for an attorney does not require the police to immediately produce one for you. The police are not required to get you an attorney. They should, however, cease all questioning of you once you have made a request to speak to an attorney. If you are not under arrest, you may request to leave; if you are under arrest, you may be detained, but you have a right to remain absolutely silent until you have spoken to an attorney.

In either event, your first priority should be to speak with an attorney immediately. Colgan & Associates has a toll-free emergency phone line (800) 615-0115 that will get a response from an attorney 24 hours a day. If you find yourself in a situation that requires representation, call us right away. We are here to help.

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