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  • Asking for Court-Appointed Attorney during questioning

    Scenario: Police go to someone's house to question them about a possible crime in the neighborhood. The suspect invokes their "right to remain silent."

    If the police then request that the suspect come into the station for questioning, and the person says they'd like a court-appointed attorney to be present since they can't afford one, what happens next and how long does it take to secure a public defender on your end? Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Suspense Writer View Post
    Scenario: Police go to someone's house to question them about a possible crime in the neighborhood. The suspect invokes their "right to remain silent."

    If the police then request that the suspect come into the station for questioning, and the person says they'd like a court-appointed attorney to be present since they can't afford one, what happens next and how long does it take to secure a public defender on your end? Thanks in advance!
    Not going to happen. If the suspect invokes, questioning stops. The only purpose for taking them to the station now is to book them if they are being arrested.

    As far as the court appointing an attorney, that will occur after they are arrested. Only then will a determination be made as to whether they qualify for a Public Defender.

    .
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

    Comment


    • Suspense Writer
      Suspense Writer commented
      Editing a comment
      I appreciate the clarification. I might have to reconsider that plot point. Good to know. Thank you!

  • #3
    Agreed. As soon as a suspect states that an attorney is desired all questioning about the facts of a case must stop. If sufficient probable cause exists the suspect may be booked into jail or issued a summons to appear in court at a later date. Request for appointment of an attorney at public expense will likely result in a referral to the public defender's office and/or a court-appointed official who will make inquiries about the suspect's financial abilities to pay for counsel, or assignment of a public defender, or the court may appoint a qualified member of the local bar to represent the suspect at public expense.

    None of this happens overnight. The process requires completion of financial disclosures and investigation prior to the court's decision or action. Depending on the jurisdiction and case loads, there might be a period of several weeks that pass before anything is decided.

    Note that attorneys working in public defenders' offices are typically young and have little to no experience. Attorneys accepting court appointments must agree to accept the rather minimal fees and expense reimbursements allowed by statute or local court rules. While moderately experienced attorneys might demand $300 or more per hour (with staff paralegals and investigators billed at $150 or more per hour), most public defenders have salaries comparable to entry-level school teachers and lower than most police departments. Court appointments might be in the range of $50 per hour or less, while very few local attorneys will touch even a drunk driving case without a $5000 or $10000 retainer and $350 per hour.

    Are you better off with a public defender or court-appointed lawyer? Probably yes, but perhaps barely so. Many appointed attorneys work more toward reaching a plea bargain than actively defending a client, and case loads at public defenders' offices are such that many defendants meet their assigned lawyer for the first time while in the court room being held to answer.

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    • Suspense Writer
      Suspense Writer commented
      Editing a comment
      I didn't realize there was a difference between public defender and court-appointed lawyers Thank you for explaining the differences between them.

      And I didn't realize that, once a client invokes the right to remain silent, the police must arrest them in order to ask any additional questions (with or without an attorney present). I had assumed the police could ask questions, but with an attorney present to make sure you didn't incriminate yourself. But now that I think about that, it makes sense that the suspect is not going to do anything at all to help supply clues that could incriminate him/herself.

      Thanks again for your thorough response!

    • retired1995
      retired1995 commented
      Editing a comment
      To make the point as clearly as possible, once a suspect has demanded legal counsel anything they may say in response to any questioning is completely inadmissible in court. A suspect could respond to a question from an officer with a full confession and that would not be admitted at trial. A suspect could respond to a question and give the location of vital evidence (murder weapon, etc) and that evidence would not be admitted at trail. For your further research, google "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine; basically anything that comes from an improper procedure cannot be used as evidence, PERIOD.

  • #4
    If I want to question you, you either agree or not. I can't force you to go to the station or jail unless you're under arrest. Then if that's the case, great, you'll probably meet your attorney 3 days later at your arraignment.

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    • Suspense Writer
      Suspense Writer commented
      Editing a comment
      Yikes - meeting your attorney 3 days later right before you're arraigned. Not the best scenario. Thank you for supplying the information!

  • #5
    Not gonna happen. You can't make someone speak to you. Generally speaking and as a point of clarification, a person is not going to have any Miranda Rights in their own home. In order for Miranda to attach, there has to be custodial interrogation. You aren't in custody when you are in your own home. The typical person is not going to have any idea about that and will invoke "their rights" anyway. Regardless. if they tell you to "eff off" you are done, but if you can get them to say something anyway, that's on them.

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    • Suspense Writer
      Suspense Writer commented
      Editing a comment
      Great point - thanks for the clarification.

  • #6
    Another thing to think about, even if the person is represented by counsel, their attorney is going to tell them to invoke. Their attorney doesn't want them to lie, because lies are too easily disproved and in court can be offered as consciousness of guilt. The don't want them to tell the truth either for obvious reasons.

    It is rare that an attorney will allow their client to speak to the police. It is usually when the person had absolutely no involvement or knowledge of the crime, was nowhere near the crime and has nothing substantial to offer on the matter.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

    Comment


    • Suspense Writer
      Suspense Writer commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for the clarification. Good to know!

  • #7
    Originally posted by L-1 View Post

    Not going to happen. If the suspect invokes, questioning stops. The only purpose for taking them to the station now is to book them if they are being arrested.

    As far as the court appointing an attorney, that will occur after they are arrested. Only then will a determination be made as to whether they qualify for a Public Defender.

    .
    As stated above

    You do not have the right to a court appointed attorney unless you have been charged with a crime.

    If you are questioned and you invoke your right to remain silent..............ok good bye. NOPE I don't have to get you an attorney, I am just leaving and making my case some other way.

    In my state you will be appointed the State Public Defenders office. If the PD has a conflict with you as a client THEN you will get another attorney appointed. But the law demands the PD is appointed at first.

    In Iowa the PD's are career attorneys & in general terms are VERY good attorneys................
    Originally posted by L-1 View Post
    Another thing to think about, even if the person is represented by counsel, their attorney is going to tell them to invoke. Their attorney doesn't want them to lie, because lies are too easily disproved and in court can be offered as consciousness of guilt. The don't want them to tell the truth either for obvious reasons.

    It is rare that an attorney will allow their client to speak to the police. It is usually when the person had absolutely no involvement or knowledge of the crime, was nowhere near the crime and has nothing substantial to offer on the matter.
    Yep No attorney worth their salt is going to let you say a word.
    Last edited by Iowa #1603; 07-21-2020, 05:42 PM.
    Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

    My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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    • Suspense Writer
      Suspense Writer commented
      Editing a comment
      I appreciate you adding more info. Thank you!

  • #8
    Originally posted by Suspense Writer View Post
    Scenario: Police go to someone's house to question them about a possible crime in the neighborhood. The suspect invokes their "right to remain silent."
    You say "Good day" or you make an arrest. It's true that I'm not reading someone Miranda in their own house except under really unusual circumstances.

    If the police then request that the suspect come into the station for questioning
    Won't happen. They've invoked their right to remain silent. You're done. The only way to talk to them without their lawyer present is for THEM to contact YOU and withdraw their invocation of their rights, which most departments would require to be in writing. I've had it happen twice in 7 years.

    and the person says they'd like a court-appointed attorney to be present since they can't afford one, what happens next
    Nothing. If they are in custody and won't waive their rights, they don't get a lawyer until they are arraigned, and the lawyer will not let them talk to the cops ever unless something really screwy is going on. The sit downs like you see on law and order almost never happen in real life.

    and how long does it take to secure a public defender on your end? Thanks in advance!
    They get their lawyer at arraignment, but how busy that lawyer is and how often they talk varies. Again, absent something weird going on, the lawyer isn't going to let the client talk to you.

    meeting your attorney 3 days later right before you're arraigned. Not the best scenario.
    Where I've worked that's the norm. The PD will call the inmates on the day's docket and discuss things briefly, mostly just information for the bond hearing, then see them for the first time in court.

    Note that attorneys working in public defenders' offices are typically young and have little to no experience.
    The opposite here. Most private attorneys dabble in everything: wills, divorces, water rights... they get maybe one criminal case per month. The PD's office only does criminal, and they do it every day. They come in the office green, but they season up fast especially since they usually work for 6 months shadowing a seasoned PD. The DA's office is similar, but PD's office has a bigger budget than the DA, so they can afford more training time and mentoring.

    With the exception of a few high-money defense firms in Denver, the PD's offices are probably the best criminal defense lawyers in Colorado.

    Attorneys accepting court appointments must agree to accept the rather minimal fees and expense reimbursements allowed by statute or local court rules
    Where I worked if you wanted to practice routinely before the court you had to accept appointment by the court.

    To make the point as clearly as possible, once a suspect has demanded legal counsel anything they may say in response to any questioning is completely inadmissible in court.
    Slight quibble: You can ask administrative questions or questions not related to the case, and if they blurt out a confession it's admissible... but you better have had a recorder running.
    Last edited by tanksoldier; 07-29-2020, 03:05 PM.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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    • Suspense Writer
      Suspense Writer commented
      Editing a comment
      Wow! You were very thorough and I love all of the insider information. Thanks for taking the time to answer all of my questions!

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