All citizens have rights, even during a criminal investigation. You must know your rights so you can protect them. This guide will walk you through the right to know if you are being investigated and other rights if you’re suspected of a crime.
What is Your Right to Know if Being Investigated?
Even if you are innocent of a crime and considered a suspect, it’s vital to cooperate with the police in the investigation. All lawyers will advise you to cooperate to remove any suspicions that you’ve committed a crime. However, that does not mean that the police doing the investigation can violate your rights.
The first step to protecting your civil rights during criminal investigations and prosecutions is to know your rights. It’s part of reality that you could be suspected or charged with a crime you didn’t commit. So make sure to exercise these critical rights if this happens to you.
- Right to Privacy
The 4th Amendment under the Constitution details your right to privacy. Therefore, the police cannot search you or your property without a sufficient warrant. This Constitutional Amendment also prevents the police from seizing your property if they do not have a warrant.
If they attempt to do so, let them know about your right to privacy. They have no right to search you, your home, or your car.
- Right to Remain Silent
The Miranda Right is part of the 5th Amendment in the Constitution. It gives you or anyone the right to remain silent when questioned by the police or law enforcement agencies. Remaining silent prevents the possibility of incriminating yourself if any statement you’ve made is used against you in criminal investigations and prosecutions.
If you are arrested for a suspected crime, you should ask for an attorney instead of speaking directly to police officers and investigators. Your attorney can provide legal advice on answering the interrogations, so you don’t make incriminating statements. In addition, attorneys can navigate these legal interrogations better than you can. Therefore, refrain from making any statements even if the police question you.
- Right to Leave
If you are arrested for a suspected crime, the police officers are only allowed to hold you for a certain period. Therefore, they need to find solid evidence linking you to the crime to hold you longer than the law would allow.
You must be aware of this right to avoid being held by the police longer than they’re legally allowed to. The details of this right are included in the 5th Amendment of the Constitution. If there is no significant reason for the police to continue investigating you for a case, they have no right to keep you in custody.
- Right for an Attorney
Most police officers and investigators will ask if you have an attorney at the beginning of an interrogation. You must refuse to speak to the investigators without your attorney present. Therefore, always ask to contact your attorney before you proceed with the investigation. It is part of your right to ask for an attorney.
Signs You’re Being Investigated
How do you know if you’re being investigated for a crime or the police are gathering information about the crime? You must first know that you’re being investigated so you can exercise your rights.
Here are the tell-tale signs that you are being investigated for a crime.
- When a police officer shows up at your house even when you didn’t expect them
- When criminal investigators contact your family members, friends, or co-workers to gather information about you
- When you receive an unexpected call or email from criminal investigators
If one or more of these applies to you, the police may be investigating you as a potential suspect in a crime. You need to know what to do during times like this because being a subject of a criminal investigation can cause serious personal, professional, and reputational harm. Even if the allegations are proven untrue, any false accusations made against you could cause serious damage to your personal and professional career.
What to Do During Criminal Investigation
If the police have invited you for interrogation, it is crucial to comply with their request. If you refuse to cooperate, it will only invite more suspicion. But before you show up for the interrogation, you must have your attorney present and have the police honor your rights.
During police questioning, it’s essential to stay calm. The more nervous you are, the more reason the police will believe that you are hiding something from them.
It’s also important to be honest and do your best not to obstruct the investigation. If you’re asked a question, answer truthfully. If you don’t know the answer, let the police know about it in the best way possible.
Never waive your rights during a criminal investigation, especially when speaking without your attorney.
When to Contact an Attorney About a Criminal Investigation
If you suspect you are being investigated for a crime, you must speak to a lawyer immediately. Be sure to work with an attorney to ensure your rights are protected and know the proper legal actions to take.
If you don’t work with an attorney immediately, you can take actions that could only worsen your position as a subject of a criminal investigation. Your attorney can provide the necessary legal advice so that you can take the target off you.
How an Attorney Can Preserve Your Right During a Criminal Investigation
An attorney can also preserve your civil rights during a criminal investigation. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is one of your civil rights in any investigative case. You need legal representation to ensure that you can exercise your basic civil rights. Protecting your rights reduces the possibility of being incriminated and convicted for a case.
It also ensures that you are given due process during a criminal investigation. Of course, the state must be able to prove your guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but it’s also essential that any evidence they use for the case is obtained legally.