What Rights Do You Have During an Investigation?
Dealing with a criminal investigation can cause you serious stress. Whether you committed the act in question or not, you may fear the consequences it could bring to your livelihood and reputation. During this time, you will want to take every step possible to protect yourself. But investigators have no obligation to inform you of your rights, and it’s important that you learn them.
Understanding your rights
You may believe that cooperating with officials will improve your odds of a good outcome. Yet, doing so could lead to self-incrimination. Even if you possess information that you think could be useful to the investigation, you may not want to present it without assistance. Depending on what you say, it could count as evidence against you.
The U.S. Constitution allows you to invoke certain inalienable rights during an investigation. These can help you avoid incrimination and protect yourself against law enforcement overreach. They include:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to legal representation
- The right to know the nature of the accusations against you
- Protection from unreasonable search and seizure
Invoking your rights
By exercising your constitutional rights during a criminal investigation, you may save yourself from implication. If law enforcement officials try to make you participate in a line-up or lie detector test, you can refuse these. The exception to this rule is if you are in custody and officers demand you take part in a line-up. Law enforcement officials can also lie to you during criminal investigations. And they may do so to push you toward a confession. If officials pressure you, you may want to exercise your right to silence. You will also want to speak with an attorney before making any statements to them.
If you are the subject of a criminal investigation, you do not need to endure it alone. An attorney with criminal defense experience can help you understand your rights and stand up for them.