I put this into GQ hoping there is a factual answer rather than a debate over the issues.
In previous threads we have discussed LEO use of authority an how it (intentionally or unintentionally) makes people believe they MUST cooperate with the police by answering questions. We also discussed (especially post-Salinas) the issue that while the officer may be well aware if you are a suspect or just gathering information, the person being questioned does not and therefore when the officer asks, “Did you know John Dough?” there is no way of knowing if it is an interrogation or not.
Now the magic words in these cases involve “Am I free to go?” or “Am I being detained?” The issue I’ve brought up a few times and which never seem to get answered is that the police don’t have to answer the question. Maybe Loach and pkbites can go into more detail but there are ample examples online of conversations where a person uses the magic words and the officer refuses to give a straightforward yes or no which based on the evidence I assume is legal. Maybe the lawyers on board can fill in at what point does the officer have to answer you with a yes or no.
Now for the GQ: Since we have established that the officer does not have to reply “Yes.” or “No.” when I ask “Am I free to go?” or “Am I being detained?” and can in fact continue questioning me - what would happen if instead I say “I want to speak to an attorney.”
If I’m not a suspect, can they continue questioning me?
If they continue questioning me and during the questioning I become a suspect, does my request for an attorney carry over or do I need to ask again?
If they refuse to let me speak to an attorney, can I assume that I can leave i.e. clearly I’m not being interrogated?
Is requesting an attorney ever probable cause for a search? Like if a cop pulls me over and asks to look in my trunk and I say, “No. I’d like to speak to an attorney.” can the officer use my request as suspicious behavior and now search my trunk?