In many cases, California law enforcement officers and prosecutors may begin a criminal investigation before making an arrest. If, for example, law enforcement officers are investigating a crime and do not have enough evidence to arrest someone, they will continue to investigate and pursue leads until they do. If you are a person of interest in a criminal investigation, it’s important to understand your rights so you can protect yourself against officers who may want to bend the law in order to make an arrest.
Your Rights Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights guarantees that a person has the right against unreasonable searches and seizure. This means that without a warrant or probable cause, the police cannot search your home, your vehicle, or your person. Probable cause is a confession or visible evidence that allows the officers to reasonably suspect a crime. If an officer asks to come into your home or search your vehicle, ask if they have a warrant or probable cause. If they do not, politely decline the search.
Your Rights Against Self Incrimination
The Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights guarantees that a person has the right not to incriminate himself. You have the right to remain silent and you do not have to answer any questions — even if you are arrested. You must provide identification, but you do not have to answer questions like:
- where you were at a certain time
- where you are going
- if you know about X
- if you have any involvement in X
- if you know a person
- or anything else
In fact, invoking your right to remain silent is critical to keep law enforcement from using your words against you.
Your Rights to Retain an Attorney
You have the right to retain a criminal defense lawyer at any time, even if you haven’t been arrested yet. As a matter of fact, hiring a lawyer when suspected of a crime is not an admission of guilt.
If you are a person of interest in a criminal investigation or have already been arrested, contact experienced defense attorney Jennifer Mouzis. Call now at (916) 822-8702.