The following is important information you need to know regarding your rights when interacting with law enforcement in Virginia. If you believe your rights may have been violated, call and schedule a consultation with a Manassas criminal defense attorney today to learn more.
Unless police have an arrest warrant or search warrant when they come to an individual’s home, the individual has an absolute right:
(1) To remain silent and
(2) To not consent to any kind of search.
People have the right to deny police without warrants entry into their homes. If the police show up at the door, one should calmly but firmly state that he is remaining silent and not consenting to any searches.
Police officers are trained to elicit information and secure consent for searches. Individuals should not engage in these conversations, nor let threats, promises, or arguments made by the police persuade them to consent to searches or answer questions.
There are many instances where people thought that they have nothing to hide and believed that by simply telling the police everything they knew, they would be helping themselves or avoiding arrests. Unfortunately, it is often the case that there might be evidence inside your home, or car or backpack, that one is either not aware of or does not realize the significance of. If a person consents and gives up her rights, then a lawyer will not be able to later argue that a search or the questioning was in violation of her constitutional rights, and then evidence may then be used at trial which might have been kept out.
It may also be the case that the police have received false information and that in course of an interview one might make inconsistent statements that confirm the police’s preconceived notions. Simply remaining silent and not consenting to any search is the safest course of action when confronted by the police. The Constitution guarantees these rights.
Police officers have the right to approach you on the streets and talk to you, just as anyone else does. However, if the police approach you, the first question you should ask them is whether or not you are free to go. If the police have reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a weapon or other contraband or if the police have probable cause to believe that you are committing or have committed a crime, they do in fact have the right to stop you and question you. If that is the case, they will tell you that you are not free to go under those circumstances. Even in these cases, however, you are not required to answer any questions or consent to any searches. If the police stop you and tell you, “You are not free to go,” it is important to calmly but firmly tell the police, “I am remaining silent and do not consent to searches.”
It may well be the case that you have not done anything wrong but if the police are talking to you they may believe that you have evidence or are guilty of something. Even innocent actions can sometimes look suspicious or incriminating. When the police are questioning you, especially places like on the side of the road, they are in the position of authority and may have information that you do not have. Do not attempt to talk your way out of that situation, but rather remain silent and do not consent to a search. Later, you can evaluate with an attorney whether there is anything that ought to be said to the police. At the time of the stop, however, an individual is at a disadvantage, and so even innocent statements may become incriminating.
Do not send us confidential information related to you or your company until you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us.