by Jon Sinclair, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist
If you are arrested, an attorney should be hired, or at least consulted, as soon as possible. It is never a disadvantage to inform a police officer that you would like the opportunity to consult an attorney before speaking with law enforcement. If you have been arrested for a crime and are in custody, the police are supposed to stop asking you questions when you invoke your Miranda rights, but only if you clearly state to them that you would like an attorney. If you are not in police custody, there are no Constitutional limitations on their questioning of you.
For example, if you come down to the police office on your own for questioning or the police officer rings your doorbell and starts asking you information regarding the matter at a later date, there is nothing that prevents them from doing this as a means to gather evidence. By informing the police officer who is asking you questions that you would like to cooperate but only with your attorney present, you can avoid possible self-incrimination. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible to be represented by a public defender, provided you meet certain requirements.