There’s an old saying that “only the guilty ask for a lawyer.” That old saying has never been true.
The right to legal representation comes primarily from the need for anyone unfamiliar with the legal process to find a professional to help them navigate the overwhelming and intimidating world of legal due process.
If you have the right to seek out a professional to fix your car, you have the right to seek out a professional attorney to address your legal challenges.
Don’t Jump The Gun
All that being said, it’s still important to pick the right time to request a lawyer. It’s important to understand that legal representation does not work as a preventative measure; a lawyer cannot provide legal aid to a person planning to commit a crime. Think of legal representation as a tool to be employed in response to a specific challenge.
For example, suppose you’re driving and the police pull you over. Should you come to a complete stop, roll down your window, and demand a lawyer?
No. Why? Because the police officer has only started questioning you. Unless you’ve been arrested or taken into custody, you technically have no need for a lawyer at that time. Think of it like calling an exterminator to treat your house for infestation because you found one ant on the kitchen counter.
Now, if the police officer writes you a ticket for speeding or running a red light, you do have the option to hire a lawyer since you have received a physical record of the charge in question.
Now suppose you’ve been pulled over and the police officer starts asking if you’ve been drinking and driving. Do you need to request a lawyer at that point? Not yet.
It’s important to remember that, as a person now actively being investigated for a crime, you have the right to incriminate yourself by answering the officer’s questions. And again, at this point in the scenario, you still have not been arrested by the officer.
Keep in mind, though, that a refusal to answer questions will not guarantee safety against an arrest. The officer might request the driver take a field sobriety test, and if the individual in question happens to be showing physical indicators of intoxication, the officer may decide to arrest the person. The officer has a duty to the law and public safety to arrest anyone suspected of breaking a law, and it’s important to remember that even a polite officer will still be working in service to that duty.
Arrest and Representation
Once you’ve been arrested, that’s the time to ask for a lawyer. At that point, the situation has moved to a new phase of the investigation, opening up the option of legal consultation to the person now actively being accused of a crime.
The police have a duty to recite the Miranda rights to anyone arrested, specifically the part about the right to remain silent as anything stated can and will be used in their investigation. Want to learn more? Contact The Clarke Law Firm today.