If you have ever watched a police reality show or even read a “cops and robbers” bestseller you already know that you have the right to ask for a lawyer at some point during the investigation and/or prosecution of a crime. What may not be so clear is exactly when you should ask for a lawyer and how you should go about doing so. Before you assume you don’t need to know the answers because you are a law-abiding citizen, keep in mind that anyone can fall under suspicion under the right set of circumstances. To ensure that you understand your right to an attorney, a Smyrna criminal attorney explains when you should ask for a lawyer and how to go about doing so.
Where Is Your Right to a Lawyer Found?
Your right to counsel originates from the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reads as follows:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Exactly what the 6th Amendment means, and when it applies is something that took the courts decades to clarify. One thing that is important to understand, however, is that your Constitutional right to an attorney does not have to attach for you to decide you want a lawyer. For example, you have a Constitutional right to a lawyer if you have been charged with a felony offense; however, you may want to consult with a lawyer as soon as you hear that the police are interested in questioning you for that felony.
Situations When You Should Ask for a Lawyer
Whether your Constitutional right to counsel applies or not, there are a number of situations when it is in your best interest to ask for a lawyer. Some of these situations are obvious while some may not be so obvious. Ask for a lawyer when:
- When you have been arrested for any crime – you undoubtedly know to ask for a lawyer if you have been arrested for a serious offense; however, you need a lawyer for any Why? Because the non-judicial consequences of any conviction can be life altering and because that minor charge could be upgraded once the police get you booked into the jail.
- When the police want to question you – do not make the mistake of thinking that you can outsmart the detective nor thinking that cooperating with the police is in your best interest and shows your innocence. Detectives question “people of interest” and “witnesses” all day long, every day. After being questioned, those people often move from the “person of interest” or “witness” category to the “suspect” category.
- When you receive a “target letter” – federal law enforcement agencies sometimes announce that they are investigating you by sending you a “target letter.” Take this very seriously and contact a lawyer.
- When your probation officer tells you that you violated your probation – a probation violation could result in revocation of your probation. That, in turn, could result in a judge ordering you to serve your entire suspended sentence.
- When a co-conspirator/defendant has been arrested – do not be gullible enough to believe that a someone with whom you planned, or committed, a crime will never tell the police about your involvement. The reality is that the vast majority of the time, a co-conspirator or co-defendant will give you up if the prosecutor offers a good enough deal. To avoid getting caught unprepared, talk to an attorney as soon as you learn of the arrest.
Contact a Smyrna Criminal Attorney
If you are facing any of the above situations in Smyrna, Tennessee, or the surrounding area, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna criminal attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.