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NCJ Number: 156915 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Procedure: United States Supreme Court Adopts the Threshold of Clarity Standard for Ambiguous Requests for Counsel
Journal: Florida Law Review  Volume:46  Issue:3  Dated:(July 1994)  Pages:483-493
Author(s): L Zofchak
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 11
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes the case law regarding suspects' ambiguous requests for counsel, and whether evidence gathered during an interrogation can be admitted as evidence after such an ambiguous request has been made.
Abstract: In the first case described here, a suspect was questioned about his possible participation in a murder after he initially waived his right to a lawyer and after he suggested that perhaps he should speak to a lawyer; the interrogation stopped once the suspect invoked his constitutional right to see a lawyer before answering further questions. A judge denied the suspect's motion to suppress statements made at the interview, holding that his initial mention of a lawyer was not a request for counsel. His conviction on charges of unpremeditated murder was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that officers have no obligation to stop questioning a suspect if his request for counsel is ambiguous or equivocal. This article discusses three approaches developed by the courts -- per se bar, threshold clarity approach, and clarifying questions approach -- toward assessing whether ambiguous or equivocal requests for counsel are sufficient to invoke a suspect's Miranda rights. The author concludes that the Supreme Court ruling has narrowed the scope of Miranda safeguards, and proposes a rule which would require interrogators to verify whether a suspect under custodial interrogation is expressing a desire to have counsel present. 101 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Right to counsel; US Supreme Court decisions; Waiver of rights
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