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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27757
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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G'day. Can an arrestee get a public defender during the

Customer Question

G'day. Can an arrestee get a public defender during the arrest? Can the arrestee "take the fifth?" I fear I might misspeak if ever arrested.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I am an experienced criminal lawyer.
Your Constitutional right to an attorney does not attach until your arraignment on the charges. A public defender cannot get appointed until your arraignment.
However, you have a constitutional right under the fifth amendment against self-incrimination. That's the reason that police are supposed to read arrestees their Miranda right. All you have to do is to tell the police that you do not wish to answer any questions until you've spoken to a lawyer. At that point, they are supposed to stop questioning you. If they don't, say it again.
Basically, if police detain you, and start to ask you questions (other than your name and identification), ask them if you are free to leave. If they say yes, then leave. If they say no, you can just tell them that you will not answer questions before you've spoken to a lawyer.