Cox & Mazzoli


Supreme Court Limits Right to Counsel

Supreme Court Limits Right to Counsel

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down an opinion last Tuesday in Commonwealth v. Bland that limits a criminal suspect's right to counsel. In that case, a target of a criminal investigation provided the police a letter written by his attorney stating that he would not answer any questions. The Court held that a criminal suspect's right to counsel is not properly invoked until after Miranda warnings are given.

This is a critically important matter because police are not permitted to question a target after the right to counsel has been invoked.  The U. S. Supreme Court has already limited this right even after it is properly invoked by allowing the police to question an individual after they have been out of custody for 14 days.

As a practical matter, clients need to tell the police at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of any interrogation that they will not answer questions without having their criminal lawyer present. This needs to be re-stated every 14 days thereafter if the police or federal agents continue to attempt to interview a suspect.

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