You have probably watched many television crime dramas where two detectives play off each other to elicit a conviction from a suspect. While this paradigm makes for riveting tv, it also demonstrates the importance of having an attorney present for police questioning.
If you think officers may question you in connection with a crime, you should be ready to request an attorney for at least three reasons.
1. You have a right to legal counsel
Before beginning a custodial interrogation, officers must advise you of your Miranda rights. This advisement, which stems from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, includes your right to remain silent and your right to legal counsel.
Even if you have nothing to hide, requesting an attorney is your fundamental right under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, officers may draw no inference about your guilt or innocence from your request for an attorney.
2. You may say something incriminating
Prosecutors may use anything you say during police questioning against you to secure a conviction. As a result, even seemingly harmless statements may become a major headache for your future defense.
If you have an attorney with you during police questioning, he or she may stop you from incriminating yourself. Your lawyer is also likely to object to the inappropriate questions detectives often ask suspects to answer.
3. You are not the professional
Officers receive extensive training interrogating suspects and obtaining confessions. Because you lack this professional education, officers immediately have an unfair advantage over you.
An experienced attorney understands police procedures and interrogation techniques. Ultimately, to level the playing field, it is a good idea to have a professional on your side too.