We use both our own and third-party cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. If you continue to browse, we consider that you accept the use of these.
  • Celebrating 20 Years of Training Excellence 2004-2024

Interrogating A Suspect After Invocation of Counsel

It used to be that once a suspect invoked the right to an attorney in an interrogation, officers were prohibited from approaching the suspect and questioning her again. The only way to approach that suspect was when the suspect had consulted an attorney or the suspect approached the officers and reinitiated contact.
Edwards v. Arizona 451 U.S. 477

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court in Maryland v. Shatzer 130 S.Ct. 1213, reviewed the Edwards rule and found it unrealistic. The Court set a bright line rule for when officers can approach a suspect who previously invoked the right to counsel.

The Court stated that officers must wait fourteen (14) days after an invocation of the right to an attorney before approaching a suspect to again attempt to question her. There must also be a break from custody for those 14 days.

Maryland v. Shatzer

Shatzer is a convicted child molester. Shatzer was serving a sentence in prison for child molest when detectives developed information that Shatzer molested his three year-old son. A detective went to the prison where Shatzer was housed, read Shatzer his Miranda warnings and attempted to question Shatzer. Shatzer invoked his right to an attorney. The case was closed.

Three years later, detectives reinterviewed the victim and again travelled to prison to interview Shatzer. Shatzer was again provided his Miranda warnings and was interviewed for 30 minutes. Shatzer never referred to his prior invocation. Shatzer made some admissions and agreed to a polygraph examination. Three days later investigators again Mirandized Shatzer and administered the polygraph. Upon telling Shatzer he had failed, Shatzer made further damaging admissions and then invoked his right to counsel. The interview was terminated. Shatzer moved to suppress his statements at trial, that motion was denied and Shatzer was convicted.

Shatzer Appeals.

Shatzer moved to suppress his statements as being violative of the Edwards v. Arizona rule, that held an invocation of the right to an attorney was an invocation forever more unless an attorney was brought in for the suspect and consulted or the suspect initiated the subsequent interrogation. The assumption in Edwards is that subsequent contact by officers is by its very nature coercive based upon continued custody or police pressure.


The U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that state courts, including the California Supreme Court in People v. Storm (2002) 28 Cal.4th 1007, 1023-1024 (Holding a two day break sufficient), have found the Edwards rule inapplicable assuming there is a break in custodial status.

The Court then set out to decide how long a break in custody is long enough to insure that the suspect is not coerced into a subsequent Miranda waiver and statement.


The Court held that officers must wait 14 fourteen days to approach a suspect who invokes his right to an attorney during an interrogation. Further, the Court held that the suspect must be free of custody for that amount of time for the subsequent waiver to be valid. If the suspect remains in custody for those 14 days he may not be questioned.


The Court held that generally being in prison was a different status then being taken into an interrogation room and being questioned. Shatzer was able to return to his normal prison life after his interrogation. The Court held that under those circumstances the coercive nature of a subsequent interrogation was diminished as though Shatzer was released from custody. Thus, Shatzer could be reinterviewed as more than 14 days had passed between police contact which was defined as Miranda custody and general prison custody.

Chuck Gillingham is a veteran prosecutor. He is also an instructor for the California District Attorneys’ Association and for Santa Clara University School of Law.

  • I highly recommend this training for any Probation staff who have the necessity to interview/interrogate individuals for investigation purposes.

    —R. Bret Fidler, Santa Clara County Probation Department
  • Your training has made the greatest and most direct impact on my assignment of any training class that I've taken.

    —Ken Gelskey, National City Police Department
  • Your training gave me the confidence and tools to interview the suspect for over 5 hours and to bring a closure to the case.

    —Daniel Phelan, San Jose Police Department
  • Instructional style is engaging and highly effective.

    —George Laing, Fire Prevention Captain, Investigator
  • This training by far has been the most informative and most effective I've attended. The instructors engaged the students in a manner that made me want to speak my opinion, ask questions, and participate.

    —Julio Ibarra, Merced County Sheriff’s Office
  • This training provided the useful tools necessary for assessing the veracity of a suspected child abuser, which goes a long way in helping to protect children.

    —Sunny Burgan, MSSW, LCSW, Social Work Supervisor, Santa Clara County DFCS
  • This was, by far, one of the most useful training classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.

    —Steven Aiello, Antioch Police Department
  • This was, by far and away the best training I have received in 15 plus years of Law Enforcement. The instructors are experienced, engaging, articulate, and very entertaining. I will be recommending this training to multiple agencies.

    —Mark Paynter, Oregon DOC
  • The information presented was highly relevant to my job and was presented in a manner that was organized and very easy to digest.

    —Michael McGarvey, California State Prison, San Quentin
  • I will continue to use and pass on this information because I really believe in the instructors and their approach.

    —Kimberly Meyer, Washoe County Sheriff's Department
  • It not often that you go to a training that you really, really want to pay attention to. Because of the high quality information and style of presentation, I knew that if I looked away I was going to miss out.

    —Quinten Graves, Oregon State Police
  • Incredible training with amazing real world instruction. I have been taking law enforcement classes for over 30 years and by far this is the best presented and most useful.

    —Det. Brian Dale, Portland Police Bureau
  • Effective teaching teams! The presentation of the material was consistently interesting, and intelligent without being too intellectualized.

    —Michele Keller, Deputy Probation Officer, County of Alameda