Custodial Interrogation Lawyers

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What is a Custodial Interrogation?

A custodial interrogation is any questioning initiated by the police or law enforcement authorities with a person who has been taken into formal custody.  Custodial interrogation can also occur with a person who is “otherwise deprived” of their freedom of movement or action in any way.

Thus, custodial interrogation can occur at a police station in connection with a formal arrest, but it can also happen in the street or at a public place.  The main test for whether a custodial interrogation has occurred is whether a normal, reasonable individual would feel free to terminate the encounter with the police and leave the area.

For example, if the police stop a person walking down the street and begin questioning him, it may not be considered a custodial interrogation if the person believed that they were free to go at any time during the questioning.  However, if the police physically blocked off the person’s path or restricted their movement by force while questioning them, it could be considered custodial interrogation.

Can a Lawyer be Present at a Custodial Interrogation?

Yes- in fact, any time that the police take a person into custody or restrict their freedom of movement, they are required to read them their Miranda rights before questioning them.  The Miranda rights stem from the 5th Amendment of the constitution, and among other things, allow the person in custody to refrain from speaking unless an attorney is present. 

In order to invoke their Miranda right to an attorney, the person in custody must clearly communicate to the police that they don’t wish to continue speaking until their lawyer is present.  This is important, because any statements that are made during a formal custodial interrogation can be used against that person in a court of law.  Once they request a lawyer, the police can’t interrogate the person any further until their lawyer is present. 

What if the Person’s Rights Have Been Violated?

If person’s right to an attorney has been violated, it could lead to many different legal consequences.  For example, suppose that the authorities continue questioning the person even if they have already clearly refused to speak until their attorney arrives.  In this case, the authorities can’t force the person to speak after that point.  Any statements made without the attorney present generally cannot be used in a court of law against the person.  The information can’t be used as evidence in court if there is evidence that the law enforcement authorities disregarded the person’s constitutional rights.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Custodial Interrogation Matters?

Custodial interrogation is a necessary part of the criminal justice system.  Without the ability to interrogate defendants and suspects, it would be difficult to make progress on a criminal case.  On the other hand, custodial interrogation must be conducted properly and in accordance with all the principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution.  If you have any questions, legal concerns, complaints, or disputes involving custodial interrogation, you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately.  Your attorney can advise you of your rights and provide you with representation during formal court proceedings. 

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Last Modified: 10-18-2012 02:19 PM PDT

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