If you are under investigation for a criminal offense in DC, there may be a vast amount of information law enforcement can gain access to. As a result, it is imperative you consult with a DC criminal attorney in order to ensure you are taking the necessary steps to minimize the harm. For more information call and schedule a consultation today.
The types of information that investigators have access to depends on the type of charges brought by the case. Investigators can use subpoena power to access phone records, bank records, even cell phone tower information to triangulate a person’s locations at different times. Police officers can apply for and use search warrants to be able to search a person’s house, vehicle, and items connected to the individual such as safes, safe deposit boxes, and locations that they are considered to have a privacy interest in, such as their house, car, and containers belonging to them.
Police officers can’t simply go to a person’s house and search it. They need to first apply for a search warrant from a judge. They need to demonstrate to the judge that there are reasons to suspect a person’s house, apartment, car, phone, or their personal containers might have evidence of a crime they are investigating. If the authorities can get a search warrant from a judge, there is no way to limit access to the areas they have the authority to search.
A person always needs to be aware and speak with a lawyer about how to ensure they are not being accused of obstruction of justice. Obstruction can include a person attempting to influence or coerce possible witnesses. It can also include a person trying to convince possible witnesses to not cooperate with police officers or investigators. Anything of this nature could result in an accusation that a person is obstructing justice or tampering with witnesses. This is a very serious crime, potentially even more serious than the crime a person is being investigated for.
Even when a person has retained a lawyer, there are few ways that a lawyer can limit investigators’ access to evidence. However, a lawyer can help a client understand what a police officer needs to be able to search their house and what the proper response is to police actions. For example, the lawyer may advise the client that if a police officer shows up at their house requesting to come inside and take a look around without a search warrant, the client can tell the officer, very politely, they cannot come inside. There are many other circumstances in which an individual can and should refuse to consent to warrant-less searches.
If the officer comes back with a search warrant, then it’s important for a client to observe what the officers are doing, step back and let the officers conduct their investigation. The person should call a lawyer and explain what happened. They should not try to argue with the officers, or try to restrict their access if they do come in with a search warrant. The best course of action is to remember what the officers do and speak with an attorney who can determine after the fact whether the officers overstepped the boundaries of their warrant.
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