How Not to Waive Right to Counsel

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that the Miranda warnings adequately let a defendant know of his or her constitutional right to counsel. Once the police have warned a defendant, a defendant can waive the right and speak to the police, even if the defendant is represented by an attorney.

Before the Court decided this case, a defendant’s request for an attorney at an initial appearance triggered the right to counsel at all questioning. The defendant could not waive this right without his or her attorney present. Now, a defendant’s request for counsel during formal proceedings does not bar police from later questioning the defendant.

Therefore, if you are arrested, you must consistently raise your right at every stage of the proceeding. The request for counsel must come from your own mouth. If the police try to question you, say something like “I don’t want to talk. I want my South King County criminal defense attorney present.”

Some courts have applied the rules of professional conduct to formulate a broader right to counsel. However, most courts will not expand the right to counsel before the start of adversary proceedings, other than the limited Miranda right.


An experienced South King County criminal defense attorney will send a representation letter notifying the prosecutor that he or she represents a client under investigation. This may deter the prosecutor from having the police or informants communicate with you because most prosecutors will not want to risk sanctions for violating ethical standards.


If you’ve been arrested, contact experienced South King County criminal defense attorney South King County criminal attorney for a free evaluation.


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