Police officers typically receive comprehensive training on investigating crimes, interrogating suspects and collective evidence. Likewise, prosecutors often have considerable experience securing convictions. They are also lawyers.
Even if you are an attorney, you probably lack the experience and knowledge that are common among officers and prosecutors. Fortunately, you have a fundamental right to have an attorney present during most phases of the criminal justice process.
A custodial interrogation
You may be familiar with the Miranda warning, which advises criminal suspects of their rights to remain silent and to access legal counsel. Usually, officers only must give you the Miranda advisement before conducting a custodial interrogation.
As its name suggests, a custodial interrogation happens when you are in police custody. To be in custody, you must not be free to leave. Therefore, if you are unsure whether you have a right to an attorney, you can ask officers if you may go. If you are in handcuffs or sitting in a locked interrogation room, though, you are probably in custody.
An unambiguous expression
You do not want to leave any doubt about your desire to invoke your right to legal counsel. Consequently, before talking to the police, you may want to be as unambiguous as possible. While you do not have to use magic words, clearly asking for an attorney is important.
After asking for an attorney, it is critical for you to stop talking. That is, even if you request a lawyer, officers may use voluntary statements against you. Ultimately, though, having legal counsel is one of the more effective ways to avoid incriminating yourself.