What Happens If I Ask Police For A Criminal Defense Attorney?
Whether you are being investigated for a crime, questioned by law enforcement, or have already been placed under arrest, it is vital to understand that police and prosecutors are not on your side. They are focused on eliciting responses that they can use to convict you of a crime—not on protecting your best interests.
You should always work with the police through a lawyer. This raises an important question: What happens if you ask the police for an attorney? Here, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer answers the question by explaining the most important things you need to know about asking for an attorney when being questioned by police.
You Always Have the Right to a Criminal Defense Attorney
First and foremost, you need to know your rights. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every defendant in a criminal case the right to professional legal counsel. You cannot be compelled to answer questions by the police.
When You Ask for a Lawyer, the Police Interrogation Must Stop
What happens when you actually invoke your right to a lawyer? The answer is the police officers are required by law to stop their interrogation. They cannot ask you any more questions once you officially invoke your right to an attorney. At that point in time, you will have a right to hire your own attorney or—if you cannot afford one—seek a public defender from the court. If a police officer conducts an unlawful interrogation after you have properly invoked your right to a lawyer, any statement made could be ruled inadmissible and thrown out of court.
Your Request for an Attorney Must Be Unequivocal
To be clear, police officers are only required to stop their interrogation if you properly invoke your right to an attorney. What does it mean to properly invoke your right to counsel? The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on this matter. The most important case is the 1994 decision of Davis v. United States.
In that case, an individual being investigated for homicide was being questioned by the police. He stated “maybe I should talk to a lawyer.” No attorney was provided and police questioning continued. He was later convicted based, in large part, on statements made during that interrogation. An appeal was filed on the grounds that he was improperly denied a lawyer.
The Supreme Court ruled against him. The court determined that saying “maybe” is not sufficient to invoke your right to counsel. Police can continue asking questions. To invoke your right to a criminal defense attorney, you must be clear and unequivocal. Demand a lawyer. It is your right. When you do, police officers must end the interrogation.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando, FL criminal defense lawyer is a strong advocate for justice. If you or your family member was arrested, we are here to help you deal with police and prosecutors. You have the right to an attorney. Contact us today to set up a fully confidential case review. From our Orlando law office, we provide criminal defense representation all over Central Florida.