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The accused is in an interrogation room, and has demanded a lawyer, who has arrived. The lawyer sits at his client's side as the detectives/crime lab/whoever drops a key piece of evidence on the table and accuses them again of the crime.

The client immediately begins to confess. Sometimes the lawyer will attempt half-heartedly to stop him ("Don't answer that" or "This interview is over"), but the new evidence causes so much grief and repentance that the victim gives a bone-chilling, Motive Rant which real-life detectives would kill to have.

Sometimes, the lawyers don't say anything (but should). One can only assume they got their payments up front.

Often the result of an Exasperated Perp.

Another type of Don't Answer That (featured in The Closer frequently, and both nonfiction-book and fictional-TV versions of Homicide: Life On the Street) is a ploy used by a detective to get suspects to waive their rights. ("He came at you, didn't he? That's self-defense. Whole different thing, then..." "Yeah, he did! He-!" "Whoa, whoa- don't answer that- you can't tell me that sort of thing unless you sign this waiver...")

Legally speaking, the detectives can ask anything they want once the lawyer is available to the client, but if the lawyer asks or demands to speak to the client alone, then police officers are required to leave the room or otherwise allow a private discussion. The fact that the the lawyers in TV shows simply tell their clients not to answer something does not prevent the detectives from continuing to question. Which usually means that the lawyers are pretty damn ineffectual.

Not to be confused with the comedy trope where one character asks an overly obvious or hypothetical question, and then quickly tacks on, "Don't answer that!" -- examples of this should go on the Rhetorical Question Blunder page.


Live Action TV

  • If a suspect on Bones has a lawyer, they are invariably there for the purpose of saying this.
  • Same with most of the variants of Law and Order
  • Subverted in New Tricks, where the obstructive defense lawyer is secretly working with the police to force out a confession from his client (they create a scene where the questioning officer flies into a rage at how annoying the DA is and seemingly shoots him, scaring the perp into a blubbering wreck)
  • All the time on the The Closer. The perps never, ever listen to their lawyers unless the plot requires it. Sayeth one Genre Savvy lawyer:

 "I hate my job."


Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the Daffy Duck cartoon, "Hollywood Daffy" has him posing as a director to fool the sissy studio gate cop:

 Daffy: Those looks....that pro-feel...what's Errol Flynn got that you haven't got? (to us) Don't answer that!

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