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Law Offices of Lance T. Marshall

Pennsylvania defendants have right to an attorney

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant the right to effective representation by a competent attorney. The Fourteenth Amendment made this right universal; it applies in both state and federal cases. When an individual is arrested or questioned by police, they should almost always refuse to speak without the presence of an attorney. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can help ensure that a suspect's rights are protected.

Anyone who has watched a crime drama on tv has heard of a suspect's Miranda rights. The first one read is the "right to remain silent," which derives from the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. This is an extremely important right, even when a suspect is not read a Miranda warning. Often, law enforcement officers will question a suspect without arresting them, asking for a voluntary interview - sometimes at a police station or other official location.

A suspect should say nothing to law enforcement, apart from providing a name and identification, outside the presence of a lawyer. Whatever a suspect says to a law enforcement officer may be played back in a recording in front of a jury. No matter how helpful or innocuous it may seem at the time, such statements often come back to bite criminal defendants.

Imagine a male college student thinks he engaged in consensual "heavy petting" with another student, who may have been too intoxicated to offer true consent. The next day, she tells police officers that the male student sexually assaulted her. There were no other witnesses, so at this stage, it's a he said/she said issue. If the male student then gives a statement to police admitting the activity but asserting that it was consensual, he just made a big part of the prosecution's case: they no longer have to prove that the incident happened, they only have to prove lack of consent. Criminal suspects should always remain silent - and call an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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Law Offices of Lance T. Marshall
250 East Beaver Avenue
Suite 774
State College, PA 16801

Phone: 814-308-0422
Fax: 814-308-8552
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