HOW DO PEOPLE GENERALLY DISCOVER IF THEY ARE BEING CHARGED WITH A CRIMINAL OFFENSE?
Well, frankly, most people know they’re being charged with a criminal offense when they directly receive a “Summons” from the police in their motor vehicle or otherwise, or receive a “Warrant of Arrest” from the police or a Magistrate at the police station.
Otherwise, people are contacted by the police in one of several ways. Often a police officer may come to their door, looking for them; but they think they haven’t done anything wrong that they’re aware of; or the police may be investigating a recent motor vehicle criminal offense such as “Hit and Run” and want to look at a person’s car and ask some questions. Then, that’s the time to not talk but to call a lawyer.
Your obligation when facing a possible criminal offense charge
When a police officer says to you, “May I search your car?” on a routine traffic stop and you hesitate and say, “Why?”, the officer will answer your question with another question, saying “Well, why not? Do you have something to hide?” So, what should you do? Well, first, you should never have spoken with the officer at all. All you should have done is properly identify yourself, and provide them with your driver’s license or other required documentation. Nothing else!
This is America! In America all you have to do when you come in contact with the police is simply to identify yourself properly. Nothing else! You have no obligation to talk with the police or answer any questions. If you don’t talk, it’s very hard to get yourself into trouble. If you do talk, you will likely make more problems for yourself.
Regarding white-collar criminal offense or money crimes; or for gun or drug crimes; or large scale operations involving multi-jurisdictional law enforcement “Task Forces”, by the time you find out you’re under investigation, it may be too late. Indictments may have been issued by a Grand Jury, or Search or arrest warrants issued against you.
People may not even know that they’re under investigation, perhaps for years. Everyone else will know because a letter comes in the mail from the local police department asking you to “stop by” the police station to just “Sign some papers”. Even someone stopped by the police is not necessarily cited or arrested at the time. They may end up being investigated for something and eventually charged and arrested for a crime. So, again, don’t talk!