Arrested? You might recall the arresting officer reading you your Miranda rights before taking you into custody. Part of your Miranda rights includes the right to an attorney. Our adversary system runs on the principle that the guilty will be convicted and the innocent will go free. The 6th amendment guarantees that every criminal defendant shall receive assistance of counsel if he so wishes to establish his defense. The 6th amendment right to counsel attaches at all critical stages in judicial proceedings. Examples of critical stages include physical line up, preliminary hearing, polygraph examination and sentencing. Examples of non-critical stages where you do not have the 6th amendment right to counsel include: photo line-ups, post arrest show-ups, fingerprinting, bail hearings and psychiatric examinations.
You must first be charged with a crime before your right to counsel attaches. But once you assert your right to counsel during the adversarial proceedings, police must honor your request for counsel and not initiate any questioning until your attorney is present. If the police do not honor your request and question you without your attorney, the information you give the police cannot be used against you. After you invoke your right to counsel, it is important to not say anything until your attorney gets there because if you initiate questioning, your admissions can be used against you.
So, why should you invoke your 6th amendment right to counsel? First and foremost, the police use an array of techniques in interrogation. Specifically, they use psychological manipulation to control you. They may play the bad cop, good cop game, or put the fear of the penalties in your mind for committing the crime. Sadly, it happens time and time again where an innocent person confesses to a crime in interrogation. The confessions often happen due to the stress and pressure created by the interrogation. In one report, it is estimated that between 42% and 55% of suspects confess to a crime during interrogation.
Secondly, you should invoke your 6th amendment right to counsel because it is very difficult to proceed as a pro se litigant. But, if you so wish, you may represent yourself in a court of law. However, most defendants are not equipped with the legal knowledge that lawyers possess. Furthermore, most defendants would find it difficult to argue their case when they have little to no experience in this kind of practice. Also, in order to effectively argue your case you must be able to see both sides of the situation and often times defendants will find it hard to see both sides of the situation due to their personal bias.
Lastly, you should invoke your 6th amendment right to counsel because everything you tell your attorney will be confidential. The attorney client privilege protects the client and any other person from disclosing confidential communications to counsel that are relative to a legal matter. Simply enough, if you admit you committed a crime to your attorney in his legal capacity, your attorney cannot go tell law enforcement or anyone else of your involvement in a crime.
Why wait until you have been charged with a crime to contact an attorney? Contact your local attorney Daniel Selwa today before you are indicted on criminal charges.