Getting investigated by the police is one of the many things in life we never want to come across. It comes with stress, work-life disruptions, and, of course, unwanted attention and doubt from neighbors and family.
If you think you are under a law enforcement agency’s surveillance, you must be intimidated or frightened thinking about all the things you may or not have done wrong. But before you start worrying right away, here is how to tell if the police are investigating you.
If you are suspected of a crime or for aiding and abetting one, you or your close friends and family will be contacted by the police. However, until the investigation is complete, or they have enough evidence to charge, you will not be privy to any of the information even after hiring a lawyer.
Signs To Tell If You Are Under Police Investigation
Even though police can be very inconspicuous, here are some tell-tale signs that may give them away.
You Have Been Involved in Something Illegal
If you feel you are being targeted by the police or any other law authority, think about any illegal activity you might have committed. You can also be reported for breaking the law, even if it had been performed unintentionally.
Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are not sure what you might be investigated for. They will protect your rights and make sure you are abiding by the law and not digging a deeper hole for yourself under pressure. Getting a lawyer is not a sign that you are guilty.
Keep a Lookout for Anything Unusual
The police will want to gather incriminating evidence against you before placing charges. Check your surroundings to see if you notice anything or anybody strange. It may be unmarked vans parked across your house or a suspicious person following you everywhere you go.
If you are being spied upon, the person would follow you everywhere, stop moving when you move, mumble, or talk under their breath when you do something, and actively avoid your eye contact.
Do not ignore your neighbors when they say they noticed somebody lurking around the house, such as a postman when you are not supposed to get any mails or a utility repairman coming in unannounced. If that happens, check if anything seems misplaced in your house, and look for wired bugs in your appliances.
Keep track of odd phone calls, friend requests, or messages on social media. Distant static or clicking sounds, decreased battery life, phone acting up by making weird noises and lighting up, increased usage of data, etc., could indicate that your phone is also being tapped.
Investigators and Informants Contact You and People You Know
This is the clearest way to tell if you are under investigation. The police might arrive at your home and ask questions about an incident, a person, or your whereabouts for a certain time. Avoid lying at all costs. It is against the law, and you might end up further incriminating yourself.
Informants may also contact you. They usually help the police by gathering information for them. It can be hard to distinguish informants as they look like civilians and have barely any tell-tale signs. But still, avoid sharing information with strangers as much as you can.
Your friends and family may also be asked to confirm your behavior and actions. This information may be used to build up as evidence against you or to confirm your alibis.
If the police arrive and request to search your homes, you are at liberty to refuse when they do not give a good reason. Ask them to show a search warrant and check the details correctly. You should check how many there are, their names, and the reasons for the search.
Letters and Target Records
You may also be called to the police station to give a statement. For some state-level offenses, you may receive subpoenas or target letters to appear in court without any prior indication. Never ignore a court summons as it would lead to the issue of an arrest warrant for you.
You can also contact the district attorney’s office or the local police department to see if you have any cases or charges against you. But as we said before, they might divulge information as it may compromise the case.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can an attorney help?
In the likelihood of a potential criminal charge, any attorney will help you prepare you for it when it appears. They will tell you what to do, about your options, and the possible outcomes.
After talking to the police and finding out what they are searching for, attorneys can make sure you cooperate without incriminating yourself.
2. Do you lose anything by speaking to an attorney?
No, you do not. Hiring a lawyer does not mean you are guilty. It only means you are protecting your rights as a citizen. You might have to pay a small fee for the initial consultation, but most attorneys waiver this if the situation does not proceed further.
Attorneys bound by law must keep any information or conversation exchanged between you private. They cannot say anything even if you do not hire them.
3. What is a federal investigation?
Felonies that cross state lines are usually handled by federal agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) usually covers terrorism, cybercrimes, white-collar crimes, civil rights, etc.
4. What happens in a federal investigation?
In such cases, you will be contacted by agents, receive subpoenas and target letters, have your home searched with an issued warrant, etc.
5. How long does a federal investigation take?
Different crimes have a different statute of limitations, a period which indicates that the investigation has officially ended, and you cannot be charged for it afterward. Most federal crimes have five years of limitations, with immigration and bank frauds have a decade-long limit.
You might be a possible suspect for a crime you may have committed. But sometimes, even innocent people may get convicted for crimes at any point in an investigation.
If you know how to tell if the police are investigating you, you can protect yourself by lawyering up and not doing or saying something that could be used against you in court.