Is Request for An Attorney Equal to Request to Remain Silent ?

There is some authority to interpret a request for an attorney as a request to remain silent that implicates the Self-incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In Wainwright v. Greenfield, the Supreme Court noted, "With respect to post-Miranda warnings 'silence,' we point out that silence does not mean only muteness; it includes the statement of a desire to remain silent as well as of a desire to remain silent until an attorney has been consulted." Greenfield, 474 U.S. 284, 295 n.13, 88 L. Ed. 2d 623, 106 S. Ct. 634 (1986). From this, one court of appeals has concluded, when a suspect answered a police officer's pre-arrest question by saying, "Talk to my lawyer," "Although the suspect's statement referred not to silence but to his right to an attorney, the admissibility of the statement is properly analyzed as a comment on pre-arrest silence. The suspect's statement is best understood as communicating a desire to remain silent outside the presence of an attorney." Combs v. Coyle, 205 F.3d 269, 279 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1035, 121 S. Ct. 623, 148 L. Ed. 2d 533 (2000).