Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
Asking to speak to a criminal lawyer in Alexandria does not imply guilt. Speaking with an attorney or asking to speak with an attorney is your right. The Founders and the subsequent Supreme Court holdings have affirmed that right because the imbalance of power that occurs when the government arrests and detains citizens.
The legal process can be daunting whether or not you have actually committed a crime. It’s not unreasonable to request assistance with that process in the form of an attorney and no inference can be drawn from the fact that you want an attorney to help guide you through this unfamiliar process. Asking to speak with an attorney to a police officer does not imply guilt.
The right to an attorney does not apply until you’re either formally charged and are being questioned or you’re in a custodial interrogation setting. What that means is you’re in custody in some way, for example, handcuffed in the back of a police car or at a police station, and police are asking you questions about the incident for which you are being detained.
There are numerous ways to be legally “in custody” for purposes of interrogation and have the right to an attorney, and if police do not act within the Constitutional mandates, incriminating evidence can be excluded from trial. If you are in custody and are being interrogated, police must read you your Miranda warnings and if you request for an attorney, they must stop questioning.
You do not have to necessarily have your attorney before you’re arrested and in a situation in which they are not interrogating—that’s a common myth. But you do if they proceed with the investigation, once you are in custody.
In Alexandria, shortly after you’re arrested, typically you’re allowed to contact your attorney. If they have you in custody and they’re asking you questions and you request an attorney, they must stop questioning you right away. There’s no automatic right to a phone call; a lot of people think that because of TV and the movies. But in Alexandria, they are pretty accommodating if you request an attorney and will likely allow you speak with an attorney not long after you request one. Either way, you should probably request to speak to your attorney as soon as possible to help preserve your interests.
If you go to arraignment and tell the court you will hire your own attorney or the court will appoint one, at that point after arraignment, you are certainly able to call your attorney or the court will help you locate one if you don’t have one already. No matter what, it is best to try contact an attorney as soon as possible during the arrest process, and although the police do not have to immediately comply with that, they will comply with it at some point. Hiring an attorney early in the process can only help put you in the best possible position when you case gets to court.
It is important to contact a lawyer before you are charged with a crime because an attorney has experience in dealing with these types of investigations. An attorney can therefore help guide you, advise you, and give you the best information to either hopefully avoid ever being arrested on the charges, or if you are arrested, to put you in the best possible position to fight the charges by not providing any information or evidence to the investigators that could harm you later. Contacting an attorney if you’re being investigated, even if you aren’t charged is very, very important. It can have a long term impact on your future both in court and with the arrest process.