By Richard McDonald
No. Asking for a lawyer will not make you look guilty. Sometimes, the police will say you do not need a lawyer if you are not guilty. Do not believe them. You have the right to a lawyer regardless of whether you are guilty or innocent. This is a common police tactic to get you to confess.
And, if you have already made a statement to the police, tell your lawyer. You should tell your lawyer if you feel your words were twisted. But you should also tell your lawyer no matter what. Police and prosecutors can use your words against you at trial, so your lawyer needs to know about them.
Do you have to talk to police?
No. The police must inform you of your right to remain silent. Your Miranda rights include your right to remain silent. They also include your right to a lawyer. If police don’t tell you these rights and you confess, a court may not let the prosecutor use it in court. But this doesn’t mean you should talk to police even if you know they violated your rights.
If police make you confess under duress, the court may not let the prosecutor use your statement either. Maybe the police will use physical force against you. Or they might threaten you. Sometimes, this conduct violates your rights. But these situations are rare, and you need to be careful.
The same rules apply if investigators come to speak to you in jail. You do not have to talk about your case with anyone other than your attorney. This includes jail guards, police officers and cellmates. Don’t tell on yourself or give away any information. This helps your attorney when it comes to defending you.
Should you ask for a lawyer even if you’re innocent?
Yes. Police can use your words against you even if you’re innocent. You should not speak to police until you talk to your lawyer. If the police are already speaking with you or searching your property, it is already too late. The best course of action is to remain silent. This is true for the innocent and the guilty.
Is it hard to find a good lawyer?
Sometimes. Finding a good criminal defense attorney can be difficult. This is especially true when you don’t have a lot of time or are in jail. Money is also a factor to think about. You want to find a lawyer who has experience, who will communicate with you and who you trust.
There are many ways to find a good attorney for your case. You can start online by looking at sites like Avvo. But these sites aren’t perfect. You may want to ask others for recommendations. You can also look at local organizations, too. In North Carolina, for instance, the State Bar and Court System offer help as well.
You have the right to an attorney. Don’t let anyone on the other side convince you otherwise. Your rights won’t protect you unless you use them. A good attorney can help.