The right to have an criminal defense attorney present during any police questioning has been a fabric of our legal society since the mid-1960s. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1966 landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona that criminal investigators are required to advise people of their Constitutional rights prior to asking any questions (Miranda Rights). One of those rights is the right to have a criminal defense attorney present during any and all questioning.
Other Supreme Court decisions have authorized most every police interrogation tactic, including lying to and deceiving the suspect. Police may intimidate you with the threat of arrest, lie to you regarding their knowledge of the facts, lie to you about an eyewitness identification, and tell you they will work with the prosecutor to help you out. With that knowledge of these police interrogation ethics, is it any wonder why you should demand legal counsel during the process? If not, you are choosing to enter a battle with no armor and no weapon.
Most people are not familiar with these “rules of the game” when approached by law enforcement. Many may not even realize they are being setup to be a suspect. What may seem like a friendly, casual police encounter can quickly change to a situation with you in handcuffs with a free ride to the city jail. It is important that you protect yourself from misinterpretations, misrepresentations, and misinformation. A competent criminal attorney will be able to spot these common police tactics. He will then be able to give you sound advice as to what questions to answer, and when to say enough is enough.
Believe me when I tell you that police investigators will say anything and make you feel as uncomfortable as possible to get you to talk to them immediately, before you have had the opportunity to seek legal advice. You should decline any comments regarding a criminal matter, whether you have anything to do with it or not.
Too many charges have been brought against clients due to misinterpretations of statements. Remember the scene from My Cousin Vinny where Ralph Macchio is repeating back the question to the sheriff, “I shot the clerk”. To him, he was stunned by the question; in trial it was used against him as a statement of admission. This is not uncommon in criminal law.
The magic words that stop all police questioning are, “I want to speak to a lawyer.” Protect yourself, your reputation and your freedom. Always demand a criminal defense attorney for all police questioning.