Before law enforcement charges anyone with a crime, they conduct an investigation. Investigations may include contacting a variety of people and interviewing them. They may ask a person to come to the police station to conduct the interview. This can be very intimidating, since that person is in unfamiliar territory and is being interviewed in an enclosed room with maybe more than one officer. It is common to find clients incriminate themselves when under pressure during police interrogations, resulting in their being charged with a crime.
What Can I do?
It is always best to be proactive and seek assistance from someone with the knowledge and experience to handle matters of pre-charge investigations. The person should know when you should and should not speak, what type of information is necessary to divulge, and how to best disclose information without incriminating yourself. These people are attorneys (a.k.a. lawyers or counsels).
Do I have Right to Counsel?
Say you request an attorney, but you’re either denied permission to retain counsel prior to continuation of the interview, or the officer intimidates you, stating that by asking for an attorney, you must be guilty of some crime. In reality, you have the right to counsel pursuant to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when you are being interrogated in police custody prior to charges being filed. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 471 (1996). The act of seeking legal representation before being charged with a crime cannot be used against you in court if you are later charged with a crime. To do so would simply undermine our Constitution and legal system.
What if I'm Still Questioned After Requesting for Counsel?
When you make a request for legal representation, all questioning must immediately cease. Any further questioning should result in any elicited information and evidence being thrown out in court and kept from being used against you.
If you have additional questions, contact Nicco Capozzi, a criminal defense attorney in Fresno, CA at (559) 374-2012.