All to often, we meet with clients after they have already been questioned by police or federal agents. In many if not most of these cases, innocent people will speak to the police believing that they can explain their side of the story to the police and end the investigation. This is a mistake.
Your right to Counsel and to Remain Silent
Anyone dealing with police or federal agents has a right to counsel and a right to remain silent, whether they are advised of these rights or not. We are all familiar with the Miranda warnings, i.e., that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can and will be used against you, that you have a right to counsel and that if you cannot afford counsel, one will be appointed for you free of charge. The Supreme Court, however, only requires that these rights be given when a suspect is the subject of a custodial interrogation. In most encounters with authorities, citizens are not going to be "in custody". Therefore, most of the time police offices and federal agents are not required to give Miranda warnings. Nevertheless, anyone suspected of a crime should indicate that they wish to have counsel present for any interview, even if they do not believe they have done anything wrong.
Reasons why You need to have an Attorney Present
The presence of an attorney during a police interview (or interrogation) serves several purposes. First, the attorney is a witness to what was actually said. Many times, after a suspect has been interviewed by the police, they will prepare a "results of interview" that differs from what the suspect actually said. Without an independent witness, it is the suspect's word against the police, not a good position for the witness. Law enforcement officials are also trained in investigative techniques that are designed to manipulate people. An experience criminal defense lawyer will be familiar with these techniques and can ensure a fair interview. The lawyer will also know when an interview should be terminated, so that it does not become abusive. Experience has shown over the past two decades that hundreds of people have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned based upon false statements or other forms of police misconduct. An experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best defense