After being arrested and the suspect of Fairfax investigations, you may wish to seek the experienced legal advice of an attorney. Someone familiar with the investigative process could help you better understand what to do and what not to do.
A Person’s Rights If Police Knock at the Door
A police officer has the same right as any member of the public to knock on a person’s door to ask questions. Likewise, when a police officer comes to someone’s door, the individual has the same rights regarding answering an officer’s questions as anyone else who comes to their door. It is acceptable to decline to answer questions from someone who knocks on their door to ask questions including police officers.
How to Deny Entry to a Police Officer at the Door
If a police officer comes to an individual’s home, they have no greater obligation to let officers enter the house than they would if a salesman or other solicitor approached their house. It is reasonable for a person to decline to let a police officer enter their home. It is best that the individual verbally informs the police officer that they do not give them permission to enter the house and they prefer the officer to stay outside.
Why Denying Entry is a Good Idea Even if a Person Has Nothing to Hide
It is almost always advisable to not grant a police officer permission to enter one’s home even when they have nothing to hide, and especially if they have nothing to do hide. Once someone grants a police officer access to their house, it is much more difficult to get an officer to leave than not letting them in the house in the first place. It is much easier for someone to deny entrance to their home than to wait until they are uncomfortable with the police being in their house and ask officials to leave.
It is also always important to keep in mind when dealing with the police that their business is to uncover the things people are hiding. They always assume a person is hiding something. Inviting an officer inside only allows that officer to search for what a person may or may not be hiding.
A Person’s Rights if Stopped on the Street by an Officer
The police have the same right to stop a person and speak with them on the street as any other citizen does. Similarly, one has the same right towards the police officer as any other citizen in most circumstances. In most situations when the police stop someone on the street, they are under no obligation to continue to speak to the officer or give them any information other than their identifying information.
In broad circumstances, a person may have an obligation to give the police officer their identifying information such as their name and date of birth. It is advisable to offer that information voluntarily. Aside from identifying information, an individual is not required to answer any questions the police have when they stop the person on the street. It is often best to observe the right to remain silent in that situation.
How to Avoid Questions and Leave the Situation
The most important thing to keep in mind is to not prolong the conversation in any way, not ask any questions, and not answer any questions with further questions. The person should answer briefly and politely that they do not wish to answer any questions and do not wish to have a conversation and continue along their way. People who get into problematic situations by trying to avoid talking to the police on the street are those who demand an explanation as to why they are being targeted or questioned by the police.
If someone asks questions of the officer in that situation, that gives the officer an excuse to continue talking to them and prolongs the conversation leading to a situation in which someone could become upset. The officer may ultimately develop a reason for an arrest when there was no reason to continue the conversation to begin with. The best thing to do when a person does not want to have a conversation or contact with the police is to politely give their name and date of birth and state that they do not plan to answer any further questions without an attorney present.
How a Person Could Know if They Are in Custody, Being Detained, or Simply Questioned
When someone is confused about whether they are being detained by the police or whether they are in custody, they should immediately ask the officer if they are free to leave. If the officer tells them they are free to leave, the individual should immediately leave the situation. It is never advisable for anyone to be told they are free to leave the situation to remain at the scene. If an officer advises a person they are being detained, it is best that they immediately begin using their right to remain silent and not say anything further to the officer.
There are important legal distinctions between being in custody and not being in custody. Someone who is being detained by the police may be in custody for legal purposes or may not be depending on several other circumstances. For someone in immediate contact with the police, the safest thing to do is to ask if they are free to go and proceed to leave the area if they are indeed free to go. When someone is being pulled, they are being detained and may ask why they are being detained. The best advice is to forego asking further questions and let the situation resolve itself while they observe their right to remain silent.
Under What Circumstances Could a Person Refrain from Consenting to a Police Search of Their Vehicle
There is no situation in which a person must consent to a search of their vehicle. An individual may refuse to consent to a search of their vehicle at any time. However, that does not mean that police officers do not have legal authority to search or that they will not conduct a search. Regardless, a person should not give an officer consent to search their car because they believe the police are going to search the car. There are many cases in which police search a car when they do not have the legal authority to do so. In those situations, the individual may have a defense involving a motion to suppress in order to exclude certain evidence from being considered at trial.
One of the most common justifications for conducting a search of a vehicle is when the officer obtains consent for the search. In any situation where the police ask for permission to search a person’s vehicle, the individual should inform the officer that they do not have consent to search. Even when someone is certain the police are going to search their car, they should not grant them consent because that gives them legal authority to search the vehicle. That is not to say that the individual should do anything that physically prevents the police officer from searching their car.
When a law enforcement officer conducts an illegal search, all obtained evidence could be barred from trial.
How Denying Consent to Search Could Impact a Future Case
By not giving police consent to search one’s car, the individual eliminates one type of legal authority the police may use to conduct a search. The police could search a vehicle for more than one reason such as probable cause. Regardless of probable cause or consent to search, if an officer does search when consent was not given and in the absence of probable cause, the search becomes illegal and all subsequent evidence found because of the search could be suppressed.
The Differences between a Personal Search, a Vehicle Search, and the Search of a Person’s Home
The basic law surrounding each type of search is different. It is important to consider the type of search being dealt with in any particular situation. The distinction is what is actually being searched. A personal search is a search of an individual which may involve a pat-down search to check if a person has any weapon, a search of their pockets, or a more thorough search after they are arrested.
A vehicle search is a search of someone’s vehicle and only involves the contents of the vehicle itself.
The search of a person’s home is a search of the physical home which requires the highest level of probable cause. In almost every situation, a search warrant is required that gives probable cause to search the home for specific evidence.
How a Person Could Refuse These Searches
There is a difference between refusing to give consent for a search and refusing to cooperate with a search. When the authorities have a warrant for a person’s arrest or a warrant to search their house, any interference with them doing so may constitute obstruction of justice. The best practice when dealing with officers conducting a search is to inform the officer that he or she does not consent to any type of search. However, victims of searches should not physically prevent the law enforcement officers from taking any action, even if it is suspected that the officers do not have the grounds to search.
If someone believes the search is in violation of their constitutional rights, the proper thing to do is to inform the authorities that they do not have their consent to search and allow their attorney to sort through the legal ramifications of the search when their case is set for trial.
When Officers Make Known a Person’s Right to Deny a Search
Conscientious and honest law enforcement officers inform people of their right to refuse a search. Some officers may mislead people into thinking they are required to consent to a search or they do not have the right to object to a search. If a police officer informs an individual that they have the right to refuse a search, they should take that as a possible signal that the police officer does not want to conduct the search and is looking for an excuse to not conduct it. The officer may want the person to tell them they do not have permission to continue.
What an Officer is Required to Show to Conduct a Search
In order to conduct a search of an individual’s home without the owner’s consent, police generally need to show a valid search warrant for the property. A valid search warrant lists the address and description of the property to be searched as well as the type of evidence the authorities are looking for on the property. A search warrant is always accompanied by an affidavit explaining why the officers feel they have probable cause to believe they will find evidence on the property.
Required Warrants to Conduct a Search
In order to search a home or search a property, the authorities need a search warrant authorized by a judge.
How Fairfax Investigations Continue After an Arrest
In most cases, an arrest does not conclude the investigation in Fairfax. The Fairfax Police Department or the other police departments in Fairfax assign a lead officer to each case who is responsible for any information coming into the case such as people calling in with information. The lead officer is responsible for the follow-up investigation needed such as interviews or reviewing videotape as it becomes available.
What an Investigation Means for a Person’s Case
Someone charged with an offense should consider that in all stages of their charge, there is a police officer assigned to their case to continue to develop evidence to use against them at trial. The police officer’s job is not complete until the trial is concluded. For example, it is extremely important that anyone charged with a crime never speaks on the phones in the jail about their alleged criminal offense. The assigned officer in Fairfax listens to all of the jail calls, especially for felony cases set for trial. It is not uncommon for defense attorneys to be given several hours of phone calls the week before trial that the prosecutor plans to play for the jury to argue that the defendant was discussing the facts of the crime on the phone at the jail.
How an Experienced Attorney Could Help
One of the most helpful things an attorney could do for a potential client is to prevent officers from taking that client into custody for interview purposes. Once police officers are aware a person has an attorney, they will simply direct their communications through the attorney. Any interrogation that takes place after one hires an attorney requires the presence of their attorney.
Circumstances in which an Investigation Might Continue Even When the Person is in Court or Going to Trial
It is common for an investigation of a case to continue while someone is in trial if the prosecutor believes witnesses are being intimidated or if the incarcerated defendant is using the telephone in the jail. If the defendant finishes a day in court and makes a phone call, the officer assigned to the case listens to the phone call before the case is back in trial the next day.
Common Aspects of Investigations After Arrests
After an arrest, it is not uncommon for an interrogation to take place in which the police inform someone of their right to have an attorney present and of their right to remain silent. They may try to interview that person without an attorney present to have them admit to the offense. After an arrest, it is also common for the police to review all jail calls for anyone incarcerated. For those who are not incarcerated, the police may review the cellphone records they are able to obtain or possibly monitor the individual’s online behavior.
Contact a Defense Attorney Today
If you have been involved in Fairfax investigations for criminal activity, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced legal representative who could help you better understand what options you may have in court.