What To Do When Being Investigated By Delaware Police
Not every Delaware criminal case starts with a police encounter, putting a person in handcuffs, and reading of Miranda rights. In fact, law enforcement work behind the scenes in many cases, often conducting investigations for several months to accumulate enough evidence. They are not just gathering sufficient proof to make an arrest: Police are also seeking to support the prosecution with its burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead of an arrest, many of these cases go through the grand jury process, which may then lead to an indictment on criminal charges.
However, police authority in collecting evidence is not limitless. There are restrictions on their investigative powers, and overreaching could constitute a violation of your civil rights. Because this period before being charged is so critical, you need to retain a Wilmington defense lawyer for pre-arrest services right away. You should also follow a few tips as soon as you know you are the subject of a probe.
Do not make statements to police.
Both the Bill of Rights to the Delaware Constitution and the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution include protections related to self-incrimination and due process of law. It is a violation of your civil rights for police to force you to answer questions or provide statements, even if you are not yet under arrest.
Decline any invitation for an interview.
Many people assume it is in their best interests to provide information when it might prove their innocence, while others believe cooperating with law enforcement will be beneficial. To the contrary, agreeing to meet with police could harm your interests because you may reveal too much – i.e., enough to get yourself arrested.
Refuse to sign any documents.
There may be good reason to work out an agreement with officers in exchange for immunity, lesser charges, or to avoid arrest entirely. You must discuss options with an attorney before signing any paperwork related to criminal allegations. The documentation may include legal requirements or ramifications, and it is crucial to understand the terms.
Do not consent to a search.
Without a search warrant supported by probable cause, police are prohibited from conducting a search of your home, business, vehicle, or other property. However, officers may still ask for permission or try to convince you that consent to a search will benefit your position. Refuse to allow any search of these spaces and other areas where you have an expectation of privacy.
Never resist arrest.
If the investigation leads to charges, do not engage in altercations – verbal or physical – with arresting officers. Doing so will only lead to additional criminal counts.
Consult with a Delaware Criminal Defense Attorney About Pre-Arrest Services
You support your rights by following these tips, but retaining skilled legal representation gives you an edge at any stage of a criminal case. For more information on our pre-arrest services, please call 302.600.1262 or go online to schedule a consultation with Attorney Michael W. Modica. We can meet with you at our Wilmington, DE office to discuss options.