If you’re like most people, an encounter with the criminal justice system can make you extremely nervous and scared. When you are sitting in a police station facing interrogation, it can be difficult to remember your rights and how to invoke them. By informing yourself before this happens, you can call upon your constitutional rights when you need them and drastically increase your chances of defeating the charges against you.
Why you need an attorney
The Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution gives you the right to have an attorney present at every significant step of the criminal justice process. That means that you can have an attorney with you every time the police question you as well as at every court hearing.
If the police decide to make you participate in a line-up in order to give a witness a chance to identify the perpetrator of a crime, you can have an attorney there to make sure that the police do not use tactics that draw the witness’s eye to you or make you stand out. These tactics are an unconstitutional violation of your rights, and an attorney can identify and put a stop to them.
How to invoke your right
The right to have an attorney present is not automatic. The police are required by law to inform you of your right, but they will not automatically provide an attorney for you. You must specifically invoke this right. Once you do, the police interrogation must end until your attorney is by your side.
You can invoke your right to counsel by clearly stating to the police that you are invoking your right. Do not use ambiguous language, such as “maybe I should talk to a lawyer.” State that you are invoking your right to have counsel present, and then remain silent and do not answer any further police questions until your attorney arrives.
Having an attorney to help you through your criminal trial is worth every penny. While they cannot guarantee results, having an attorney will increase your chances of getting a favorable verdict considerably.