If I Tell An Officer I Want to Speak With An Attorney, Does That Imply Guilt?
Absolutely not. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees your right to not testify against yourself. This is often expressed as the right to remain silent. That means that you don’t have to answer most questions of the police. You do have to obey their lawful commands, but the law and the constitution are very clear that not talking does not imply guilt in any way and in fact, not talking is the correct course of action to pursue anytime someone is encountering law enforcement.
Individuals should be very comfortable in the knowledge that they have the right to remain silent and to not talk to the police. They should be very comfortable and confident in asserting those rights when they encounter law enforcement. Asserting that right will not imply guilt and will not hurt them at any subsequent phase of their case and, in fact, it can be invaluable in helping them to get a good outcome in their case.
When During The Criminal Process Can I Contact An Attorney?
At your first opportunity. Many times people will have reason to think that they’re going to be charged criminally even if that has not happened yet. That is a good time to get in touch with a lawyer, someone who’s going to be able to walk them through the process that might be coming, someone who’s going to give them a good advice about not talking to police, someone who can tell them what steps they might need to take in order to get bailed out of jail, someone who can tell them what the legal process they can anticipate is, so that if that does occur, it’s not a surprise. When individuals know in advance what’s going to happen, it’s often an easier process.
But the most common scenario is someone gets arrested and they want to talk to a lawyer. At that point, they should call as soon as they have an opportunity, and often this is after they have been released. This is for a couple of reasons.
One of them is that what has happened is going to be fresher in their mind early on than it ever will be again. That’s a great opportunity to begin to share with an attorney what has happened. But also, you want to get guidance from your counsel at every phase of the process and from the very, very beginning because people can make mistakes even in the first few hours or days that will have a profound impact on your case.
Why is Speaking to Counsel Even When I’m Contacted by Law Enforcement Official Even Before I’ve Been Charged Important?
It’s important because most individuals have never been through the process of being investigated by the police, being arrested, or being charged with criminal offenses. They don’t know what that process looks like, they don’t know what their rights are under those circumstances, and they don’t know what the best tactics to pursue are going to be.
These are things that a lawyer can tell you right away. These are things that they can share with you in order to guide as to what you ought to be doing, as to what you ought not to be doing, as to what you should be concerned about and focused on.
One of the things that I found is that one of the biggest benefits that people get from talking to an attorney early in the process is that it gives them some peace of mind right away. Individuals are frequently worried about the unknown and the more quickly you can talk to a lawyer and make the unknowns knowns, the sooner you can rest easier and the sooner that you can really begin focusing on what you, as an accused, can do to give yourself the best opportunity to have a good outcome in your case.