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  #1  
Old 12 October 2014, 03:09 AM
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Default Lawyers ending police interviews

How realistic is the scenario, often seen in cop shows like SVU and CSI.
The arrested person is being interviewed by police without a lawyer, when one suddenly barges in to the room, says he now represents the accused, and the interview is over. They then walk out, usually accompanied by a smug look on the accused's face.
I know the US has very strong right-to-counsel laws, but can a lawyer get a perp out of a police station, or do the cops have other options, such as charging the accused, or continuing after the accused has spoken with the lawyer.
It all seems so melodramatic, and I doubt it is true.
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Old 12 October 2014, 04:09 AM
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I'm not sure that is how it is done in real life. I know once you tell the cops you want a lawyer, they are supposed to leave you alone. I'm not even sure that happens.
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  #3  
Old 12 October 2014, 04:49 AM
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When a person is in custody, they have the right to not be questioned without an attorney. If they demand an attorney, or access to their retained attorney, all questioning should stop. If there is enough evidence to charge, the police can do that, but even so, if the suspect has invoked his right to not be questioned without an attorney, there should be no more questioning without an attorney. The police could interrogate with the attorney there, but the attorney should generally be telling the client to keep his/her mouth shut. If the police do not have enough evidence to charge a person, then when the attorney stops the questioning, the police have little choice but to let him go (I don't do criminal law; there are provisions for short-term holding a person on suspicion but I am not sure of the rules). However, you also see that happening on the police shows without an attorney showing up: witness comes in, is interrogated as a suspect, at some point he has had enough and says 'charge me or I am leaving' and the cop grits his/her teeth and says "Don't leave town."
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Old 12 October 2014, 04:49 AM
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Once an accused person makes known to the police that they want to speak with a lawyer, or that they will only speak to police with a lawyer present, police have to stop questioning the person. If the lawyer is present, and advises the client to invoke the right to remain silent, then police can't keep questioning the person. So a lawyer can end an interview. If the client wasn't charged, the police have to decide whether to let them walk out or to go ahead and charge the person. Charging them doesn't mean that the police can go back to questioning though--once a person says they want to have a lawyer present for police interactions (on the same subject) then police have to respect that.
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Old 12 October 2014, 05:18 AM
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Thanks for replies so far. But that brings up another question, can a cop tell someone "Not to leave town". I imagine it could be a condition of bail, but that is a judge making the rule, not the cop
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Old 12 October 2014, 06:55 AM
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Yeah, it could be a condition of release. It could also be a dramatic way of telling someone that their leaving the jurisdiction could be seen as a sign of guilt. I'm not sure police actually say that to people in real life.
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Old 12 October 2014, 12:10 PM
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For some reason that reminds me of a judge I worked for who would tell people, "if you disobey the court order and come before me on a Rule to Show Cause, you'd better pack your suitcase." People on whom we had to file a RtSC would ask me if they needed to pack a suitcase and bring it to court.
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  #8  
Old 12 October 2014, 03:58 PM
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Yeah, the cops can say anything. It doesn't have to be enforceable, let alone true/meant literally.
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  #9  
Old 12 October 2014, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
Once an accused person makes known to the police that they want to speak with a lawyer, or that they will only speak to police with a lawyer present, police have to stop questioning the person. If the lawyer is present, and advises the client to invoke the right to remain silent, then police can't keep questioning the person. So a lawyer can end an interview. If the client wasn't charged, the police have to decide whether to let them walk out or to go ahead and charge the person. Charging them doesn't mean that the police can go back to questioning though--once a person says they want to have a lawyer present for police interactions (on the same subject) then police have to respect that.
Here in Canada it's different. They can keep questioning you. If it is after hours the advice I heard on "Know Your Rights" is to put your head down and go to sleep after you call your lawyer because they won't stop asking questions, and unless you have a lawyer on retainer it unlikely they're going to be inclined (or able) to rush down to the precinct, especially late at night, for example.

I have been taught to say "I am willing to co-operate but I am unable to comment until I contact (my Federation and) legal counsel."

If it's related to teaching or allegations a criminal lawyer is available by phone after hours and will advise you. The ETFO (Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario) picks up that bill.

If it's not related to teaching you're on your own, of course.

I have always wondered how someone in that situation goes about getting a lawyer. Do they pick one out of the phone book?

Last edited by Latiam; 12 October 2014 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 12 October 2014, 07:47 PM
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Here, if one qualifies for appointed counsel, I'm pretty sure most people have a lawyer appointed at their arraignment. If one is hiring one's own lawyer, then it's either someone one already knows, or someone from the phone book. I know a prosecutor who had a murder suspect choose a lawyer based on who advertised in the yellow pages that they took credit cards. If you have a lawyer for another purpose--like someone who did your will, say--asking that person for a recommendation is a good idea.
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Old 12 October 2014, 09:15 PM
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And of course, in the US a lawyer isn't needed at all. There isn't anything the lawyer can do that the person being interviewed can't do themselves. It might not be a good idea to go without a lawyer but the presence or absence of a lawyer in no way changes the persons rights.
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Old 12 October 2014, 10:21 PM
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I would word that a bit differently. There are some very important things a lawyer can do that the person being interviewed can't. Most people don't have legal training and experience to draw on, and even if they do, they lack professional distance.
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Old 12 October 2014, 10:56 PM
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One of the most important things a lawyer does is to remind his/her client to quit talking.
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  #14  
Old 13 October 2014, 12:10 AM
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There is a difference in what police can do after you've invoked your right to counsel--which is one of your rights, so it doesn't entirely make sense to say it doesn't affect your rights.

If you invoke only your right to remain silent, the police can re-initiate, by asking if you'd now like to waive your right to remain silent. If you invoke your right to have an attorney present while you are being questioned, the police can't just wait awhile and then see if you'd now like to waive your right to counsel. They can't question you on that subject without your attorney present, period.
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  #15  
Old 13 October 2014, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
I would word that a bit differently. There are some very important things a lawyer can do that the person being interviewed can't. Most people don't have legal training and experience to draw on, and even if they do, they lack professional distance.
The person being interviewed may lack knowledge but beyond that there is nothing the lawyer can do that the interviewee couldn't do on their own (except perhaps leave).

I would hope that most US citizens would know that they don't have to answer questions if they think they might incriminate themselves. To not know that would imply a person has never seen a cop show on TV.
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  #16  
Old 13 October 2014, 12:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
There is a difference in what police can do after you've invoked your right to counsel--which is one of your rights, so it doesn't entirely make sense to say it doesn't affect your rights.

If you invoke only your right to remain silent, the police can re-initiate, by asking if you'd now like to waive your right to remain silent. If you invoke your right to have an attorney present while you are being questioned, the police can't just wait awhile and then see if you'd now like to waive your right to counsel. They can't question you on that subject without your attorney present, period.
What happens if you invoke your right to serve as your own attorney?
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  #17  
Old 13 October 2014, 12:25 AM
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I guess the short answer is that there would never be a time when your "attorney" wasn't present, so it would have no effect.

The longer answer is that you can choose to be unrepresented, but you don't really gain anything meaningful from that. And you don't magically become an attorney.

ETA: How would the average person likely assert their right to silence, do you think?
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  #18  
Old 13 October 2014, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
I would hope that most US citizens would know that they don't have to answer questions if they think they might incriminate themselves. To not know that would imply a person has never seen a cop show on TV.
Or, being a fallible human being, is not thinking as clearly under the stress of being interviewed by the police, and of whatever events led up to it, as s/he is when watching a cop show.

I see a lot more to lose by being overconfident than by calling in a lawyer.
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Old 13 October 2014, 01:00 AM
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I've seen every episode of Grey's Anatomy, some more than once. Still not doing surgery on myself, though.
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  #20  
Old 13 October 2014, 02:02 AM
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Who said, "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client".
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