If the authorities are questioning you about your whereabouts or actions in association with an alleged crime, you are now a suspect in a criminal investigation. In this predicament, it is imperative that you be very mindful of the things you say and do in the interactions that you have with law enforcement. If you say the wrong thing or implicate guilt, your statements can incriminate you and lead to criminal charges.
This is why it's important that you are aware of the protections afforded to you by the Constitution, state and local laws. Flexing these rights can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Even if you know that you are innocent and feel like you have nothing to hide, cooperation with the police does not guarantee that you'll be off the hook.
If you suspect that the police are reaching out to you concerning a criminal investigation, don't hesitate to exercise these important rights:
The right to an attorney
This is one of the most important rights that the 6th Amendment affords you. If you are worried that you are now a suspect in a criminal investigation, your first and immediate step should be to contact an experienced legal professional. They will help you throughout an investigation from beginning to end and help you avoid serious mistakes that could lead to the acquisition of criminal charges.
The right to privacy
The police may ask you if they can search your vehicle, home, any type of property you own, or you. This is a tactic that they use to get you to waive your 4th Amendment rights, which protects you from unwarranted searches and seizures. Unless they have a search warrant, law enforcement is not legally authorized to search your property or you, and you can refuse when they ask.
The right to remain silent
Suspects have a right to remain silent. If the police ask you any questions about an alleged crime, you can “plead the fifth” to prevent yourself from saying any incriminating statements. Police have been known to lie to suspects, to trick them into saying what they need to hear, or take what they said out of context. The only time you should speak to the authorities is if you have an attorney present.
The right to leave
If you have not been arrested or been giving your Miranda rights under the 5th Amendment, you don't have to stick around to hear the police out. You can and should exercise your right to leave that situation. To distinguish between a potential arrest and a mere questioning, your best bet is to ask. If the officer says you're not under arrest, you should leave immediately and contact an attorney to develop your next course of action.
Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you think you're a suspect in a criminal investigation, protecting yourself should be your main priority. The most effective way of doing so is to retain a skilled Bucks County criminal defense attorney. Legal professional Joseph D. Lento has successfully represented countless clients who've acquired misdemeanor and felony charges and has helped them get their sentence reduced, and their charges dismissed. For a case evaluation, contact him today online or by phone at (215) 535-5353.