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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > August 2015 > Request for Counsel: State v. Cherryholmes, 2015 Ohio 3063 July 29, 2015

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Request for Counsel: State v. Cherryholmes, 2015 Ohio 3063 July 29, 2015

Question: What constitutes a suspect’s request for counsel requiring an officer to terminate a custodial interrogation?

Quick Answer: A clear and unambiguous request for counsel.

Facts: Cherryholmes forced himself on his wife and compelled her physically to engage in sexual activity against her will. After the incident she contacted her brother who called the police, triggering an investigation. Upon being interviewed by a detective, Cherryholmes signed a Miranda waiver. During the interview, Cherryholmes responded to several questions saying “I’d rather not say right now, I’d rather wait for a lawyer.” When asked if he wanted to stop the interview or was willing to answer some questions, Cherryholmes indicated he was willing to participate in some manner. Cherryholmes was indicted and charged with rape and kidnapping.

Importance: Police officers are required to honor an invocation to terminate questioning only if such invocation is unambiguous. Suspects are permitted to refuse to answer some questions without counsel present while agreeing to continue an interrogation and answer other questions.

Keep in Mind: In this case the Court determined Cherryholmes during the interview chose a “question-by-question” approach and, as such, did not make an unambiguous or unequivocal request for counsel and full invocation of his right to remain silent. In this particular case, the defendant’s statement was recorded. A recorded statement provides the most accurate record in determining whether a suspect has made a clear invocation for counsel or has elected to remain silent.