While sometimes police will have probable cause to arrest you on the spot after a crime has been committed, most of the time there will be some sort of investigation into the alleged crime before the police apply for an arrest warrant from a judge. This investigation can involve multiple different aspects, including the police collecting evidence, reviewing surveillance footage, and interviewing witnesses. At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys are here to advise you on what rights you have during the criminal investigation process and to work to ensure that those rights are respected. By reaching out to us before you consent to a search or speak to the police, you can prevent yourself from a great deal of potential pain down the line if you slip up or say the wrong thing. Below, our lawyers explain your rights during a criminal investigation and what happens if the police choose to arrest you for a crime.
How Do Philadelphia Criminal Investigations Work?
When the police receive reports of a crime, usually one or two officers will be designated the investigating officers on the case. These officers will begin by reviewing the police reports from the scene if they were not also the responding officers. From there, the investigation could branch off into a number of different directions. If there are eyewitnesses to the crime, interviewing them will be a major first priority, as people’s memory tends to be less reliable the more time has passed.
The police will then try to access any security footage from the surrounding area that may have recorded part or all of the crime being committed. Depending on the type of crime, they may search the scene for physical and DNA evidence. When the investigating officers believe you to be a potential suspect, they are likely to want to speak to you and potentially conduct a search of your home, vehicle, or business. Even if the police insist you are not a suspect and they just want to speak to you as a potential witness, your interview still has the possibility to expose you to criminal liability.
Your Rights During a Philadelphia Criminal Investigation
First and foremost, you are never under any obligation to speak to the police, whether you have or have not been arrested. While the police are not required to give you the classic “You have the right to remain silent…” speech until after you have been arrested, this right is just as applicable before an arrest has occurred. Even if you know that you have nothing to hide, it is never a good idea to speak with the police without an attorney. The police can twist around your words and use any admissions against you in a later court case.
If the police call you in for a voluntary interview or try to speak with you on the street or at your home, you should politely decline until you have had a chance to speak with your lawyer. An experienced criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long will speak with you privately about the facts of the case and what you know or do not know. Then, if we believe it to be advisable, we will schedule an interview with the officers and accompany you to the interview to be sure you do not answer any questions you do not have to or accidentally say something you should not have said.
The police may also ask for your permission to search your home or belongings, depending on the type of crime alleged and what kind of evidence they are looking for. In DUI cases, they may request to search your automobile. You should never consent to a search unless the police have a warrant.
If the police show up with a warrant, you will be required to let them search the area indicated in the warrant. However, warrants are often limited in scope and duration, and can sometimes be issued on a faulty basis. As soon as the police indicate that they have a search warrant, you should contact an experienced search and seizure lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. If the warrant is defective or the search is overbroad, we can fight to have any evidence obtained barred from being used against you under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.
What Happens If I am Arrested in Philadelphia?
After your arrest, the officers should advise you of your rights, including the right to remain silent. The first priority of you or your loved ones should be to secure a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Lloyd Long. You should not say anything until your lawyer is present, even if you are innocent, as you never know how your words could be used against you.
Typically within 72 hours, you will face a bail hearing whether a magistrate will decide whether to hold you in jail or set bail for your release. Most of the time the judge will not hold someone unless the crime alleged is extremely serious, such as homicide. Our skilled Philadelphia bail hearing attorneys can make the most persuasive arguments for you to be released on little or no bail. After this, we can work to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. For those with minor charges, such as public intoxication, we may be able to get you into a pre-trial diversion program where your charges will be dropped if you complete it successfully. Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal, our skilled trial attorneys are always ready and able to defend your innocence in the court room.
If You Are Concerned About a Criminal Investigation, Call Our Skilled Philadelphia Defense Lawyers Today
The police are required to respect your rights during a criminal investigation, but unfortunately, they do not always do so. This is why it is vital to have an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long representing you while the investigation goes on, and beyond. If you are arrested, our skilled attorneys will fight to get the charges downgraded or dismissed and bring your case to a successful resolution. Call our firm today at 1-800-358-0305 for a free consultation.