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How To Ask For A Lawyer: Revisited

The importance of knowing the right words to inform the police that you want a lawyer before answering any questions was once again shown by a recent case decided by the Indiana Supreme Court. Unless you ask for a lawyer using the proper words, the officer may ignore your request and keep asking questions to try to get you to incriminate yourself. The stopping of police questioning is not required if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal.

In Schuler v. State, the following statement was determined by the Indiana Supreme Court not to be a clear request for an attorney allowing a confession to be used as evidence:

“I want my attorney, but I’ll answer, you can ask me questions however.”

Instead, you must make a clear demand for a lawyer that a police officer will not be able to claim later in court that the officer was not sure that you were asking for a lawyer. Steven Knecht won a reversal of a conviction on appeal when the trial court improperly allowed into evidence the defendant’s videotaped confession when the defendant had told the officer in the video: “I want a lawyer so that way, you know, I don't have to worry about-you know-saying I don't know for the fifty-millionth time.”

If you want to protect and preserve your constitutional rights, do not think for one second that you do not need a lawyer because you do need one. You should use only four words at the start of any police questioning to protect your rights: “I want a lawyer.” After stating just these four words, you should say nothing else until you have hired an experienced criminal defense lawyer such as Steven Knecht to help you fight the State because you have a lot at stake on the outcome.

Filed to Ask a Lawyer, Criminal Defense

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