I Have Been Contacted By Law Enforcement About a Criminal Investigation. What Should I do?

Posted by Tab Lawhorn | Jun 06, 2023 | 0 Comments

If someone is contacted by the police regarding a criminal investigation, there are several steps they should take to protect their legal rights and ensure their safety:

  1. Stay Calm and Composed: It's essential to remain calm and collected, no matter how unexpected or alarming the situation might be. Don't panic or become defensive, as this can make the situation worse.

  2. Ask for Information: Ask the police officer or investigator for their name, badge number, and the reason why they're contacting you. It's also essential to ask whether you're being detained or if you're free to leave.

  3. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent: You have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise it. Anything you say to the police can be used against you in court, so it's better to remain quiet until you've spoken to an attorney.

  4. Do Not Give Consent to a Search: The police may ask for permission to search your home or vehicle. Do not give consent without first consulting an attorney. If they have a warrant, ask to see it.

  5. Contact an Attorney: If you're being investigated for a crime, it's crucial to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can advise you on your legal rights and help you navigate the legal process.

  6. Cooperate to a reasonable extent: It's important to cooperate with the police to a reasonable extent, as it can help demonstrate your innocence or mitigate potential consequences. However, avoid saying anything that may incriminate you, and if you're unsure, seek advice from your attorney.

Remember, being contacted by the police does not mean you're guilty of a crime.

What if law enforcement asks me to search my property?

If the police ask for your consent to search your home, vehicle, or any other property, it's essential to understand your rights before giving consent. Generally, if the police do not have a warrant, they need your consent to search your property lawfully.

It's important to remember that giving consent to a search means that you're allowing the police to search your property without a warrant, and it can have significant consequences. If the police find any evidence of criminal activity during the search, it can be used against you in court.

Therefore, it's important to know that you have the right to refuse the search request, and you should exercise this right if you have any doubts or concerns. You can politely tell the police officer that you do not consent to the search and ask if they have a warrant. If they do have a warrant, you can ask to see it before allowing them to search.

However, if you decide to give consent to the search, make sure you understand what you're consenting to and what the scope of the search will be. Ask the police to explain what they're looking for and where they plan to search. If possible, it's also a good idea to have a witness present during the search.

Overall, it's essential to understand your rights before giving consent to a search, and if you have any doubts or concerns, you should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney.

Does law enforcement always have to have a warrant to search my property?

No.  There are some exceptions to the warrant requirement that allow the police to conduct a search without a warrant. These exceptions include but aren't limited to:

  1. Search Incident to Arrest: If the police lawfully arrest you, they can search you and the area within your immediate control without a warrant. This exception is based on the need to ensure officer safety and prevent the destruction of evidence.

  2. Consent: If you voluntarily consent to a search, the police can search without a warrant. However, it's essential to understand that you have the right to refuse the search request, as discussed in the previous answer.

  3. Plain View: If the police see evidence of criminal activity in plain view, they can seize it without a warrant. For example, if the police see drugs on the dashboard of a car during a routine traffic stop, they can seize the drugs without a warrant.

  4. Exigent Circumstances: If the police have reason to believe that evidence is being destroyed or someone is in danger, they can conduct a warrantless search. This exception is based on the need for immediate action to prevent harm or loss of evidence.

  5. Automobile Exception: If the police have probable cause to believe that a car contains evidence of a crime, they can search the car without a warrant. This exception is based on the mobility of cars and the reduced expectation of privacy in vehicles.

It's important to note that these exceptions have limitations, and the police must still act reasonably when conducting a warrantless search. If you believe that the police conducted an illegal search, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

At Lawhorn & Malouf, PLLC, our experienced attorneys have handled many motions for bond modifications and can guide you through the process quickly and thoroughly.  Call 903-999-1234 to schedule a consultation about what is possible in your case.

About the Author

Tab Lawhorn

Attorney, Tyler Office Tab E. Lawhorn is a principal partner at Lawhorn & Malouf, PLLC in Tyler, Texas. Mr. Lawhorn represents clients in Tyler and throughout Smith County who are victims of a personal injury caused by negligence. He regularly handles matters involving car wrecks, trucking accidents, wrongful death and premises liability.


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