Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyers know that this case, People v. Lynn, had first been brought forth in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Sterling. This is important news for anyone arrested in Colorado Springs.
With two justices dissenting, the court ruled to uphold the trial court’s decision that an accused must be given access to his or her attorney prior to questioning if they request it.
According to the court records, the defendant in this case was being held in jail for parole violations. An investigator with the local police department went there to question him on allegations of kidnapping, assault and menacing. While the detective was reading the accused his Miranda rights, the accused asked, “When can I talk to a lawyer?”
At that point, the detective says if the defendant wants a lawyer, “I’m done. Do you want to talk to a lawyer now? Cause if you do, I got to go.” The defendant then makes a statement to the effect of, “If I do this, can I also talk to a lawyer after?” The detective replies yes and then proceeds to question him, at which point, the defendant reportedly made statements that hurt his defense.
The trial court decided to not allow anything that was said after the defendant asked when he could speak to a lawyer. The prosecution appealed, and the Colorado Supreme Court ultimately agreed that the trial court was correct.
Case law on this issue has determined that a request to speak to an attorney prior to questioning must be “unambiguous and unequivocal to be sufficient.” That means that you have to be clear enough about it that a reasonable law enforcement officer would understand what you’re asking for.
The state’s supreme court rightly noted that because most defendant’s aren’t well-versed in legalese, their request for a lawyer can’t be held to a strict standard or script.
Even given this victory, it is well worth noting that you should not speak to police at all prior to talking with your attorney, and you need to be clear, firm and polite about your right to do so.