Know Your Rights: Leesburg Criminal Cases
When interacting with law enforcement in Leesburg, Virginia you have certain rights that may not be impeded upon and may help keep you from incriminating yourself in certain situations. Below, a Leesburg criminal defense attorney discusses some common situations involving law enforcement officers and what your rights are in each instance. To learn more about your rights or discuss a case, schedule a consultation today.
When Police Come To Your Home To Ask You Questions
If police come to your home to ask you questions you have a number of rights. These rights depend on the circumstances that bring the police to your door, specifically whether they have a warrant or probable cause to conduct a search. Even if law enforcement does have a warrant or probable cause it is still typically a good idea to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. It is also important that you understand you do not have to answer questions about alleged criminal conduct under any circumstances. You are required to identify yourself and provide identification as requested by the law enforcement officers; however, beyond that you may respectfully refuse any other requests.
When An Officer Stops You On a Street to Ask You Questions
Depending on the circumstances of the stop you may have a number of different rights. Typically law enforcement officers are authorized to stop you on the street and ask you certain questions including background information or to ask for identification. In addition, the officers may conduct a pat down for your safety and theirs. This is known as a Terry stop in reference to the US Supreme Court case ruling in Terry v. Ohio and its progeny. Beyond that identification questions and safety pat-down, however, you are not obligated to answer additional questions and you may ask for permission to leave at any time.
How To Know If You’re In Custody, Being Detained, Or Just Asked a Question?
There are two potential doctrines at play in this scenario. It is important to know the basis of both the “Consensual Encounter Doctrine” and the “Detention Doctrine.” There is a fine line between lawful detention and consensual encounter and illegal or unlawful detention. An officer can ask you questions any time and you can answer the officer’s questions. This in general terms is known as “consensual encounter” and can lead to a detention if you give answers that implicate you in criminal activities. However, in a consensual encounter you are always free to leave. If you ask the officer for freedom to leave or attempt to leave the situation in a normal manner and they prevent you from doing so, either by force or threat or physically being taken into custody by the officer, you are likely in “detention.” If you are taken into detention by an officer or held in the equivalent status of detention through a show of force that indicates you are not free to leave, then your Miranda Rights should be read