If the police arrest you, you have the right to have an attorney with you when you are questioned.[1] This is an important right to know because when you tell the police you want a lawyer, they must stop questioning you until your lawyer is present.[2] 

If you are arrested, directly tell the police you want a lawyer before talking to them. It is important to clearly and directly say “I want a lawyer.” This exact wording is important because if your request for a lawyer is not clear, the police are allowed to continue to interrogate you.[3] Courts have found statements like “maybe I should talk to a lawyer” and “I think I might want a lawyer” were not clear enough requests for an attorney.[4]

·   The police cannot punish you for asking for a lawyer. They can, however, use anything you said to them before asking for a lawyer against you. That is why it is important to tell them “I want a lawyer” and that you do not want to answer questions before your lawyer is here.

·    You do not need to have money to pay the lawyer if you ask for one. Your constitutional rights allow you to have one help you for free.[5]A free lawyer may not be immediately available to assist you with the police interview, The police cannot question you until a lawyer is present.

Once you have told the police you want a lawyer, do not speak to the them anymore. Some courts have found that a person has waived– or given up – his right to an attorney when he reinitiates talking with the police.[6]

[1] Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

[2] Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 484-85 (1981).

[3] “If a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal in that a reasonable officer in light of the circumstances would have understoo only that the suspect might be invoking the right to counsel, our precedents do not require the cessation of questioning.” Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 459 (1994) (internal citations omitted).

[4]   Ellison, 213 Ariz. 116, 127 (2006).

[5]U.S. Const. Amends. V, VI; Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 336(1963).

[6] Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 485 (1981); McNeil v. Wisconsin, 501 U.S.171, 176-77 (1991).