I’m Being Investigated for a Crime
The best defense begins with hiring an attorney before you’re even charged with a crime.
- Should I speak to the police if they are investigating me for a crime?
- What are my rights when I’m being investigated?
- Should I hire an attorney?
- What can I expect in the interrogation process?
- The police are not asking me questions anymore. Am I no longer a suspect?
- What is the difference between a summons and an arrest?
Should I speak to the police if they are investigating me for a crime?
No. If police are asking you about your whereabouts or actions in association with a criminal investigation, then you are considered to be a target of the investigation. Anything you say can be used or taken out of context to make it seem like you’re guilty, and many times just trying to explain yourself can lead to a criminal charge. If law enforcement is knocking on your door, you should tell them that you do not wish to speak with them unless your attorney is present.
Something you may not know is that officers of the law are allowed to lie and trick you in order to get you to answer their questions. They can’t use physical tactics or psychological coercion, but simple prodding or heckling can get you to respond to the questions with the answers they want in order to charge you with a crime.
What are my rights when I’m being investigated?
It’s essential that you know your rights – and exercise them – when you’re being investigated for a crime. Here are the most important rights when you’re being investigated:
The right to leave
The right against search and seizure, or the right to privacy
The right to remain silent, or to avoid self-incrimination
The right to defense
You also have the right to leave if you are not under arrest and have not been read your Miranda rights. The police can stop and question you on the street if he or she has reasonable suspicion, but you cannot be detained without being under arrest. The problem is that you don’t always know if you’re under arrest because the police will try to make it seem like you can’t leave. The best course of action is to ask if you’re under arrest. If they say no, then you should leave and contact a defense attorney to figure out your next steps.
The right to privacy is granted under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, but search and seizure precedent is far more complex. The 4th Amendment asserts that you have the right to be secure in your person and property against unreasonable search and seizure. If law enforcement seeks a search warrant based on probable cause, you should comply with the warrant. However, if law enforcement does not have a search warrant, do not allow them to search your person, property, residence, etc. without a warrant. (If you think the police are going to obtain a search warrant, you ought to contact a criminal defense attorney because this is a serious matter that could lead to a criminal charge or arrest.) One thing to know is that a motor vehicle doesn’t technically fall under “property,” so if an officer pulls you over and has probable cause to search your car, he or she can charge you on the spot for a crime.
The right to remain silent is a more commonly understood right, thanks to crime shows like Law & Order. If you are being questioned by law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent as granted under the 5th Amendment. You should absolutely invoke this right and state that you want your attorney present. As mentioned above, you should not speak to the police. They can lie to you, trick you, or goad you into saying something that could incriminate you.
You have a right to defense counsel under the 6th Amendment of the Constitution. If you have been contacted by the police to explain your actions related to an alleged offense, you should hire an experience Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney to protect your rights before you’re charged. When your rights are on the line, you need someone by your side and working on your behalf to make sure you can enjoy those rights for the rest of your life. I would be happy to discuss your specific legal situation more, so please contact me for a free legal consultation today.
Should I hire an attorney?
Yes. An experienced defense attorney can help you avoid a life-altering criminal conviction if you’re charged. If you try to explain your way out of a situation with the police, you will likely say something the wrong way. It can – and probably will – be taken out of context and used against you during the police investigation of a crime. This is a stressful situation and the best way to avoid criminal charges is to mitigate law enforcement’s evidence against you. A defense lawyer can intervene, making sure that you don’t say something that will get you into further trouble, and assess the evidence police have.
I’ve worked in Pittsburgh for many years, and a criminal investigation isn’t something to take lightly. Having handled many of these types of pre-arrest investigation cases, I know that hiring the right defense attorney is the most important factor in whether you live your life as you do now or whether you face years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and blows to your freedom. I’m happy to offer a free initial legal consultation, so please call or text me today.
What can I expect in the interrogation process?
If you have been taken in for interrogation for an alleged crime, you should hire an attorney ahead of time. This is not the time to go it alone. You have a right to counsel under the 8th Amendment. Once this is invoked, the police must stop questioning you until you’ve had a chance to speak with your attorney. Being clear and firm with the police about invoking your right to counsel is important.
The police detectives who are in charge of interrogating you will use many different tactics to try and get you to talk. Having an experience attorney on your side that can spot these tactics and help you keep a level head when you’re speaking with the police can help you avoid making a false statement. The police may try to get you to tell them what happened from your side. This is a trap. If you’re in an interrogation room, then the police are looking for you to tell them something that would give them probable cause to arrest you. They may also try to play good cop, bad cop, depending on the situation.
When you have an attorney, you may be able to issue a statement to the police. This is extremely dependent on the unique circumstances of the case and should be done only under an attorney’s advising.
If you happened to speak to law enforcement at your home, workplace, or at the police station before finding this site, don’t give up hope. In these circumstances I would see if filing a motion to suppress a custodial statement would be applicable. Call me today if you have spoken with the police.
If someone you know has been in police custody, the prosecutor has to decide within 72 hours if any charges will be filed.
The police are not asking me questions anymore. Am I no longer a suspect?
Not necessarily. The police may not be bothering you directly anymore, but they may be filing a complaint with the magistrate. The complaint identifies you as a defendant and summarizes the charges. The magistrate reviews the complaint and then issues a summons or a warrant, depending on the crime.
What is the difference between a summons and an arrest?
In Pennsylvania, both a summons and a warrant for arrest are issued by a magistrate (district judge). A magistrate issues a summons or an arrest warrant after receiving and reviewing the complaint. A summons is issued for less serious crimes and commands you to come before the magistrate on a scheduled date and time for your preliminary hearing. A warrant for arrest are for more serious crimes and with an arrest, you are likely to be taken into police custody and held in jail until bail is set.