If I refuse my right to an attorney and talk to the District Attorney myself, can I ask for a court appointed attorney later?

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If I refuse my right to an attorney and talk to the District Attorney myself, can I ask for a court appointed attorney later?

Asked on November 16, 2010 under Criminal Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes--though you may already have doomed your defense. Your right to an attorney is an absolute one, guaranteed by the United States Constitution; you may at any point get an attorney and, if you can't afford one, have one appointed or provided in some fashion. However, that does not "undo" anything you have done before. So if you have already, for example, confessed or said anything incriminatory (such as provided information that only the criminal could know), or lead or turned over to the authorities any physical evidence, that statement or evidence will very likely still be available to use against you.

Get the attorney first. You can always fire him/her later and go it alone if you're determined to. That way, though, you'll have the attorney's advice and counsel from the beginning. Also, remember that  you have a right to not say anything incriminatory--the right to remain silent--which you can and should exercise until you get your attorney to advise you as to what to say. Good luck.


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