Your Rights When Interacting With Henrico County Law Enforcement

Even when you are under investigation or arrested for a criminal offense you have legal rights that may not be impeded upon by law enforcement officers. Below, a Henrico County criminal lawyer discusses these rights and what it could mean for your case if these rights have been violated. To discuss your case, call and schedule a consultation today.

Your Rights When Police Come To Your Door

If police come to your door and ask to enter or ask you other questions, you do not have to let them in and you do not have to answer any of their questions. Usually, the best way to handle that is to simply identify who you are and then politely tell them that without a warrant, you’re not going to let them in your house.

Why Shouldn’t I Just Let Them In?

The biggest problem with simply letting the police officers in without a warrant is that they can search for just about anything and subject you to thorough questioning about the residence. You typically want to ask them to obtain a warrant so that you will know exactly what they’re looking for and exactly where they’re looking for it.

Your Rights When Stopped On The Street

If the police stop you on the street, the only questions you really have to answer are those related to what we refer to as identifying information.  In other words, you have to identify who you are — name, birth date, but you don’t have to answer anything more than that.

You can then ask the officer if you are free to leave or if you’re under arrest. If the officer says you’re free to leave, then you can just turn around and walk away. The best way to do this is to be polite, not argumentative or confrontational. If the officers tell you that you are not free to leave, you can then ask them if you are under arrest and at that point in time, the officers would either place you under arrest or detain you and place you in their vehicle. Officers can detain you for purposes of questioning, but again, you don’t have to answer those questions besides your identifying information.

How Do I Know If I’m Being Detained Or Just Being Asked Questions?

You know you’re in custody or being detained if you’re not free to leave. In other words, if you ask the officers if you’re free to leave and they say no, at that point in time, you are in custody or being detained. Typically if you’re being detained, you’re either being held on a vehicle or being handcuffed.

Miranda Rights

A Miranda is not always required, and it’s only used after an arrest if officer plans on questioning you after you’ve been arrested.  There are many cases– for instance DUIs– where an officer won’t even read Miranda because they have no intention of questioning you after you’ve been formally processed and arrested.  Another misconception is that if you’re not read Miranda, that your case will then be dismissed.  That’s actually incorrect.  If you’re not read Miranda, the only issue that really comes up is that any statements you gave after your arrest or any evidence obtained from you after your arrest will be thrown out.  It doesn’t always result in your case being dismissed, however.

Why Not To Cooperate and Solve This Now

If you’ve done nothing wrong you can cooperate, but in those cases it’s still not in your best interest to answer the questions.  The officer doesn’t know whether you’re innocent or not.  You really don’t know what information the officers are seeking, they might be operating under the idea or from statements from other witnesses who claimed you did it.

For this reason, it is usually best to remain silent and answer the simple questions about who you are and then just determine if they’re going to arrest you or not.

Criminal Enforcement in Henrico County