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Defendants have a right to an attorney but must ask for it

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2022 | Firm News

During an arrest in New York, law enforcement officers must tell people being taken into custody that they have a right to an attorney. This right comes from the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Beyond mentioning the right, police do not take any action to supply you with a lawyer although, at a later point, a judge could appoint one if you cannot afford to hire one. Essentially, you must actively request an attorney by invoking the right.

Invoking the right to counsel

Counsel is a term for receiving legal advice from an attorney. Your first opportunity to ask for an attorney may come at your arraignment when a judge formally reads your charges to you. The judge will ask you to enter a plea, but the criminal defense community strongly recommends that people decide how to plea only after speaking with an attorney.

Arraignments typically take place within hours or days after arrest. You may be able to contact a lawyer who can attend your arraignment. Legal representation may greatly impact your ability to defend yourself from charges or negotiate a fair plea deal.

Your rights during interrogation

Prior to an arraignment, defendants may be subject to a police interrogation, especially in cases involving felonies. You also have the right to request an attorney during an interrogation. You should clearly state that you will not make statements without your attorney present.

People sometimes mistake interrogations as their chance to explain themselves and hopefully get out of trouble. They may believe that they do not need an attorney present, but the criminal justice system exists to convict people. You should invoke your right to counsel because the Founding Fathers crafted the Constitution to protect people held in state custody.