What Are the Signs & What to Do if Police Are Investigating You in California?
When you have concerns that you may be under investigation by California law enforcement, you may be confused and unsure of what to do next. You know you need to take action to defend yourself, but where do you start?
With help from an experienced California criminal defense lawyer, you can plan ahead and avoid the possible fallout of a conviction. Here are some signs that a police investigation is underway and how to protect yourself and your future.
Pre-Trial Investigations in California
Before you are arrested, police will typically investigate an alleged crime. This involves collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses who may be able to give them a better idea of the events that led to the offense in question.
Some common evidence that could be collected include:
- Photos of victims’ injuries
- Samples of biological substances
- Video footage of the Internet
- Witness testimony
- Trace evidence samples
- A list of damaged or missing items
- Victim statements
As soon as you learn that you may be the subject of a police investigation, you must get a criminal defense lawyer. This way, your rights can be protected every step of the way.
Once the police have a suspect, they will want to conduct an interrogation. Law enforcement may request you to come down to the police station where they can question you. Before you agree to participate in a police interrogation, it is important to contact your criminal defense lawyer and refuse to answer any questions until your attorney is present.
How Do You Know You’re Under Investigation?
It may not always be clear whether police are investigating you. If you notice any of the following, it may be in your best interest to contact a criminal defense lawyer for help:
Police Call or Visit Your Home
Police may come to your home when they want information about a crime or a suspect. If police attempt to call you or visit your home, it may be because they believe you are a target of their investigation.
Keep in mind that no matter their reasons for wanting to question you, you should have a defense lawyer before answering anything. Regardless of how routine the question sounds or even when you are innocent, anything you say could be used against you should the police determine you are a suspect later.
Police Contact Relatives, Friends, or Co-Workers
If police are reaching out to your friends, family members, business colleagues, or other individuals you may have a relationship with, this is a good indicator that law enforcement is attempting to obtain as much information about you as possible and may consider you a suspect.
You Notice Police Near Your Home or Workplace
Law enforcement has the right to conduct surveillance when investigating criminal offenses. If you notice unmarked cars or police vehicles near your place of business, your work, in your neighborhood, or by your home, there is a good chance that you are under investigation and perhaps police surveillance.
Police Use Social Media Too
If you receive a follow, friend, or connection request from someone you do not know on social media, this may be a police officer attempting to get in touch with you. You might also notice additional followers on your public social media accounts. These followers could be undercover law enforcement officials trying to gather what information they can from your social media presence.
What Should You Do If You’re Under Investigation?
If you discover you are under investigation for a crime, it is essential to retain a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Ensure you understand and exercise your rights to protect your freedom and future.
Right to Remain Silent
One of your most important rights is the right to remain silent. You want to avoid saying anything that could be self-incriminating or be used against you at trial. Never respond to any questions police may ask you unless your criminal defense lawyer permits you to do so.
Right to Privacy
You also have the right to privacy. You do not have to answer any questions police ask you over the phone, and you do not need to go down to the police station upon request. Instead, you can direct them to your lawyer or take down their contact info and relay it to your attorney.
You are under no obligation to allow law enforcement into your home for a search unless they have a warrant. Any evidence obtained during an illegal search can be considered inadmissible at trial.
Right to An Attorney
You have the right to an attorney when you are under investigation. No matter how law enforcement may think it looks for you to hire a lawyer, it is important to put your interests above any need to seem cooperative. Police are known to lie to suspects and entice people into incriminating themselves.
Being aware of your rights does not make you guilty. You do not have to let the police intimidate you. Exercise your right to an attorney when you are under investigation or charged with a crime.
Get Help From a Criminal Defense Lawyer
As soon as you learn that you are under investigation by police, get a dedicated criminal defender to explain your rights and options.