Your Rights During a Criminal Investigation in DC

If you are contacted by law enforcement for any reason, you should take steps to protect your personal rights and ensure that they are legally protected. For more specific information on a particular incident, call and schedule a consultation with a DC criminal defense attorney today.

When Police are at the Door

If police come to a person’s door without a warrant, they are not required to speak with the police nor are they required to consent to a search of their home or property.

When police knock on the door wanting to talk about allegations of criminal conduct, a person should first seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney before having any discussion with the police. If a person does speak to the police, they should politely tell them, “I’m sorry, but I have been advised I should always speak to counsel before I speak to any law enforcement to make sure that my rights are protected.”

If a person has an attorney, they should contact an attorney to let them know that the police want to search their house and discuss what steps should be taken. If police come in with a warrant, a person cannot stop them from searching.

However, as they search, a person should pay attention to exactly what they search and what they take because they will want to discuss that with their attorney. An attorney will look at the warrant and its scope and possibly challenge it. Therefore, a person will definitely want to keep careful track of what police do during the search so that an attorney can challenge any breach of the warrant’s scope.

Shouldn’t I Show Them I Have Nothing To Hide?

This is a natural inclination. However, you never know exactly what the police are looking for. For this reason, it is always a better idea to speak to an attorney first, even if you feel like you have nothing to hide, just to make sure that they are doing the right thing.

Going Down to the Station

It is completely understandable for a person to want to go to the police station to tell their side of the story. In fact, the police will often encourage a person to talk in these situations by hinting that this will be “an opportunity to tell your side of the story.”

While that is tempting, a person should be aware that police will often invite individuals to come to the station voluntarily, so that they do not have to read them their Miranda rights, which would notify the speaker that everything they say can be used against them. The police are not required to tell a person their rights when they go in voluntarily because then the person is not being taken into custody.

If a person goes involuntarily, the police will ask questions without having told the person what the specific allegations are against them. The person may end up filling in blanks for them or admitting to something that they otherwise could not have proven. A person absolutely wants to talk to an attorney before they go in and talk to the police if they are in any way investigating them.

What If The Police Begin Searching While a Person is in Jail?

It is not uncommon for the police to search a person’s home while they are still in jail; however, they must have a warrant to do so. It is unlikely that a person will know about the search while it is happening because it is extremely difficult to be contacted by others while a person is in jail.

In any situation where police are searching property, they must give a copy of the warrant to the individual at the location as well as a copy of the inventory list of what was actually seized. A person will want to make sure that they have a copy of those documents, whether the person is physically present in the home or if they are in jail and someone else is at the person’s home.

If the search occurs while the person is in jail and there is no one home at the time, a copy of that inventory should be left on the scene. A person should then be alerted while in custody that their property was searched, and they should make sure that they have a copy of the search warrant and of the inventory list of what was seized. Following this notification, a person should immediately let their attorney know that the search has taken place and give him all the information that they have.