|Your Rights during a Pre-Arrest Criminal Investigation||
Last updated: February 2007
This article provides information regarding your rights if you become involved in a criminal investigation.
A warrant must be issued and signed by a Judge. Therefore, the Clerk of the Court in the county where the warrant was issued should have a record of the warrant. Note, it may take several days for the Clerk's Office to update their records. Contact the Clerk's Office in that county to discover if a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
However, in many cases you may be arrested even though a warrant has not been issued.
No.You are not obligated make a statement or answer police questions or to participate in a police investigation. You have the right to remain silent if police try to question you about a crime.
No. You are not required to take a "lie detector" test. This applies to individuals who are under arrest as well as those who have not been arrested. Although lie detector tests cannot be used as evidence in most courts, it can and will be used by police officers and State's Attorney's in deciding whether or not to file formal charges.
A lie detector test is not always correct; it may indicate that you are lying even though you are not, or say that you are telling the truth when you are really lying. Therefore, taking a lie detector test can be very harmful even if you are telling the truth.
If you are under arrest you cannot refuse to be placed in a line-up. But, you do not have to go to a police station in order to participate in a line-up if you have not been placed under arrest.
No. Law enforcement officials are legally allowed to lie to you during the course of an investigation. Common techniques involve lying about the strength of the case they have against you, or what particular evidence they have in their possession.
Yes. It is best that you contact a criminal defense attorney before making any statements in a criminal case. Even if you are told that police officers only want to "question" you, or that you are only a "witness," you should still speak with an attorney first.
Anything that you say to police officers, State's Attorneys, or anyone with the exception of your attorney can be used as evidence against you if you are charged with a crime. This can include formal, signed statements, as well as verbal replies to questions or comments.
Although you have a right to refuse to answer questions in a criminal investigation, this course of action may or may not be in your best interest. For example, in a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigation, the fact that a person has not participated in the criminal part of the investigation may have a negative effect on the family law part of the investigation (i.e., the custody determination). It is always best to speak with a criminal defense attorney before deciding if you should participate in an investigation or not.
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