What to Do When Being Investigated in Lexington, SC
Before Speaking to the Police, Speak with an Attorney
In general, if you are the target of any type of police investigation you
should refrain from talking with the police or consenting to any searches
until you have consulted with an attorney. If after consultation it is
determined to be in your best interests to cooperate with the police,
then that that cooperation can be structured in the best way possible.
We have seen countless examples of people who thought they were doing
the right thing and cooperating with law enforcement, only to find themselves
arrested and to have their cooperation used against them.
our office can be formally retained to represent anyone who is the subject of a police
investigation. When we are retained we can notify the police in writing
not to contact our client and to direct any further inquiries or correspondence
to our office.
Retaining a lawyer during the investigative stage of a case may provide
you with benefits such as:
- Avoiding being arrested or formally charged
- Reducing the severity of any charges brought
- Minimizing the evidence the prosecutor will have to use against you in
trial, increasing the chance of a favorable outcome in court
- Scheduling a time for you to turn yourself in so as to avoid the police
coming to your house in the middle of the night or surprising you at work
(if an arrest warrant is obtained)
Many times just retaining a
criminal defense lawyer is all that is necessary to have the police close their investigation,
since they know that they will not be able to coerce any incriminating
statements. We also remain available "on call" in the event
that the police execute a search warrant or make an arrest.
schedule your free consultation regarding a pending police investigation or arrest contact our office
Understanding Your Rights During a Police Encounter
Why is talking with the police by myself dangerous?
The South Carolina Department of Corrections is full of inmates who would
not be there if they had only remained silent. Anything you say or do
during a police investigation will be used against you later in Court.
Even statements that you make that are not actually admitting a crime
still may be considered incriminating and used as the lawful basis to
support a search warrant, arrest or conviction. You should also know that
in South Carolina police are allowed to lie to suspects during investigations,
and may try to mislead you about their intentions. Police also do not
regularly record conversations with suspects, and therefore are free to
accidentally or even intentionally misrepresent any statements you made.
If the police leave me a message asking me to call them what should I do?
You should not talk to the police without first consulting with a lawyer.
If appropriate a lawyer will advise you to either ignore the call, or
to return it on your behalf. You do not have to return messages from the
police, and you do not violate any laws by refusing to do so.
If the police ask me to meet with them do I have to?
No. You are not required to meet with the police upon their request. If
you are asked to go to the police station, or meet them at any other location
you do not have to do so. If you are the subject of the investigation
you should not agree to meet with the police under any circumstances until
you have first consulted with an attorney.
Is it still dangerous to talk to the police if I haven't been read
my Miranda rights?
Yes. Miranda only applies to people who have been arrested or are otherwise
determined to be in custody. Anything that you say before then can legally
be used against you, even if Miranda was never given. Further if you do
talk to the police they will be free to testify in court later as to what
they want you to have said, even if it is actually different than what
you did say.
What if the police tell me that I must meet with them or answer questions?
Sometimes the police will try to intimidate someone into giving up their
rights. Police usually do this because they don't have enough evidence
to make an arrest, and are hoping that someone will voluntarily confess
or make incriminating statements. Then they can go to a judge to obtain
an arrest warrant. If you feel like the police are using "high pressure"
tactics with you or a love done that is a warning sign that should not
be ignored. You do not have to answer their questions, meet with them,
or consent to any searches.
Do I have to let the police into my home or place of business?
No. Police have no right to enter your home or place of business unless
you either invite them inside or they have a valid search or arrest warrant.
Frequently the best course of action if the police come knocking on your
door is to simply ignore them. They may bang on your door and yell loudly
for several minutes but eventually they will go away. There is no law
that says you must open the door for the police or interact with them
in anyway. If the police do have a warrant you should cooperate with them
and not try to physically resist. You should still remain silent and not
consent to any additional searches until you have consulted with a lawyer.
Should I take a lie detector?
A lie detector, or polygraph, is a police tool used to assist them in
obtaining confessions. Although the lie detector test itself is usually
not admissible in court, anything that you say to the police or the test
administrator is. Lie detector tests are typically requested in cases
involving suspected child abuse or embezzlement, although they are also
routinely used in murder and other serious investigations.
We assist clients who are innocent, and who we know can pass a lie detector,
in having a private polygraph test administered. If you are interested
in this process the first step is for you to contact or office to schedule
a consultation. Private polygraph test can usually be scheduled the same
or very next day. If you can pass a private test then the results, at
your instruction, can be forwarded to law enforcement. We have seen many
examples where this is enough to cause police to conclude their investigation.
When a private polygraph is administered in our office no one other than
you, your attorney and the examiner will ever know the test was attempted
or what the outcome was. You do not risk your case in anyway by submitting
to a private polygraph in your attorney's office, whereas you might
risk everything by improperly consenting to a police test.
We do not recommend that anyone, whether or not they are innocent of the
charges, submit to a police polygraph without first consulting with an
attorney. The only times that we allow our clients to undergo a police
polygraph is when they have fully passed a private examination first,
and both our attorney and licensed polygraph examiner have concluded that
doing so is in our client's best interest.
When stopped for suspicion of DUI in South Carolina what are my rights?
You have several important rights when dealing with a
DUI investigation, and by properly applying these rights you may help avoid
a lengthy traffic stop or an unnecessary arrest. The more cooperative
someone is with the police during a DUI stop the greater the likelihood
is that they will be arrested, arrested for a more serious charge, and
have more evidence to be used against them in court.
You have a right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to discuss
with police whether or not you have consumed alcohol, prescription medication
or other substances. Police may not believe you if you admit to only having
a "couple", so often you are better off just declining to answer
You do not have to perform field sobriety tests. Before police arrest someone
for DUI they usually will ask them to perform a series of physical or
mental divided attention tests. This may include looking into your eyes
(HGN), walk and turn, one leg stand, or other tests unique to a particular
officer. These tests are not mandatory in South Carolina and you cannot
be charged with any offense for declining to participate. These tests
are designed to assist police in obtaining DUI convictions, not in helping
people avoid false arrests.
Finally you do not have to provide a breath sample. If you choose to provide
a sample you may actually be charged with a higher level DUI offense than
if you had refused. The police will tell you that if you refuse you will
lose your driver's license, but there are procedures in South Carolina
to help you have your license restored in as little as one week.
Should I provide a DNA sample?
Sometimes law enforcement will attempt to match up suspects DNA with a
sample that they believe is connected to a crime scene. There have been
numerous examples of individuals who have cooperated with this process,
only to later be charged with a serious crime based on nothing more than
a suspected DNA match. Although there are court procedures that police
can go through to compel someone to provide a DNA sample, this always
requires that the police have a sufficient reason and amount of evidence first.
The law does not require that police have any evidence against you first
before they can ask you to submit a sample. You have an absolute right
to refuse to provide any type of DNA sample absent a court order. Samples
include blood, hair, "cheek swabs", and the like. If you provide
a sample it will likely be used to conduct a national crime search, meaning
that even if you have no involvement in the case the police are investigating,
you still may be connected to other cases.
Our recommendation is that you not agree to provide any DNA sample until
you have first meet with an attorney.
What if the police want to question my child?
Children have the exact same right to remain silent as an adult does.
This means children or their parents or guardians do not violate any law
or get in trouble for refusing to answer police questions. Children are
often encouraged to voluntarily meet with police and cooperate with their
investigation. This can backfire and cause children
Additionally police will sometimes try to intimidate a parent into allowing
a warrantless search of a child's bedroom or personal effects. You
and your child both have an absolute right to not consent to warrantless
searches. If the police request that you waive this right it is best that
you hold off doing so until you have had to meet with a lawyer.
How do I refuse to honor a police request?
We have an adversarial criminal justice system in America. As a result
it is not rude or impolite to refuse to answer police questions or to
honor their requests. All you are required to do is to advise the police
that you wish to take advantage of your rights and will not be answering
questions or consenting to any searches. You do not have to give a reason.
You will not face additional charges for refusing to waive your rights.
After you let them know you are not answering questions you may wish to
ask if you are free to leave.
Always be polite. "Yes sir" and "no sir" can go a long
way. Sometimes police won't take no for an answer and may try to force
their way into your car or your home. Don't try to physically stop
them. Just make sure you are clearly not consenting and then their actions
can be challenged in court later. Never physically challenge police or
resist an arrest.
If you have already retained our office and are contacted by the police
for any reason, simply refer them to us.
Under investigation in Lexington, Columbia or elsewhere in South Carolina?
If police officers asked to search your property, gave you a search warrant
for your property, or subpoenaed an outside party for documents that point
to you, then it is safe to say that you are under investigation. If this
is the situation, it is vital that you understand that you are a suspect
and that you must take cautious steps. An arrest warrant can be issued
at any point, which is why it is extremely beneficial to protect your
hiring a Lexington criminal defense lawyer.
At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, we are here to serve you.
We can help you understand the investigation process and what steps to take.
Contact us today!