Waldorf, MD asked in Constitutional Law for Maryland

Q: Under the 5th Amendment an individual who is placed under arrest has the right to an attorney...

During questioning. What attorney would be appointed during questioning? In the state of Maryland (where I reside), a public defender (attorney assigned to the poor to represent them at trial) cannot be contacted/assigned until the accused has received charging documents. So in this case... In Maryland, who would be appointed to me.

This has been a very perplexing question I have entertained for some time. I picture a poverty stricken individual being accused and charged and taken to the police station in the middle of the night. Who would be sent to counsel the arrested individual during questioning, if requested?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: It is not a right to immediate appointment at any time you are prepared to answer questions. It is a right NOT to answer questions without legal representation present. Therefore, you exercise this right by remaining silent. The police may not question you against your will at any time. Once you invoke your right to a lawyer they must also cease questioning you. Just because you have a right to have a lawyer present when you voluntarily agree to answer questions does not mean the police or government has to provide you one or accommodate you whenever you invoke the right. It simply means, if they want to continue questioning you, that condition will need to be met. They can choose to stop questioning and you can’t force them to get you a lawyer just so you can start talking. Any lawyer would most likely tell you not to talk anyway. The only time you must be provided a lawyer is when you are appearing before a court judge or magistrate for proceedings in your case, if you invoke that right in a timely manner.

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