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Are You Under Investigation? Don’t Do These 4 Things!

If you’ve just discovered that you’re under investigation, your first impulse may be to panic. You may think about calling the police to tell your side of the story. Surely they will back off once you convince them that they’ve got the wrong person or, at the very least, the wrong version of what happened.
Don’t count on it.
If you’ve seen the movie My Cousin Vinny, you probably remember the scene where Sheriff Farley asks Bill Gambini about the clerk he supposedly killed. Bill (played by Ralph Macchio) echoes, “I shot the clerk? I shot the clerk?” In court, Farley swears that Bill confessed, “I shot the clerk. I shot the clerk.”
Granted, this is only a movie, but art tends to imitate life. Law enforcement can—and often will—twist the most innocuous statements to make you sound guilty. Therefore, if you find yourself under investigation, do NOT do these four things, and call our firm right away.

  1. Talk to the police without consulting an attorney

Even if you’re only being investigated, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say could be used as the basis for a future search warrant, arrest, or even conviction. If the police leave you a message asking you to call, don’t do it right away—contact an attorney instead. You are not violating any South Carolina laws by refusing to deal with the police directly.

  1. Meet with the police without consulting an attorney

Unless you are under arrest, in South Carolina you do not have to comply if the police ask you to come to the station or meet them at another location. In fact, it can be risky to do so for the reasons outlined in above. Even if your Miranda rights were never read to you, anything you say can and will be used against you after any meeting, so consult with an attorney first and ideally have them be present if the police want to interview you.

  1. Let the police into your home or place of business without a warrant

Even if they try to convince you otherwise, the police in South Carolina may only enter your home or place of business if:

  • You invite them
  • They have a valid search warrant
  • They have a warrant for your arrest

Although they may bang on your door and call out to you, no law requires you to open the door to them or even acknowledge their visit unless they have a warrant. If that happens to be the case, be cooperative but remain silent and do not consent to further searches until you have spoken to an attorney.

  1. Talk to potential witnesses

No matter how angry or anxious you feel, do not approach the people who are (or may be) witnesses against you, even if it is to tell your side of the story. Such a move can be construed as witness tampering, which is a crime in itself. If you truly feel that speaking to a witness can benefit your case, have your attorney take care of it.
Remember: unless you are under arrest or the police have a warrant, there is only so much they can do. Always be polite and respectful, even when declining a request. If they do refuse to take no for an answer and, for example, force their way into your home, don’t get yourself in trouble by physically resisting. Make it clear that you are not consenting to the search, so their actions can be challenged later in court, and then call your attorney.
If you are under investigation for a misdemeanor or felony in South Carolina, let the Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team protect your rights. While there are no guarantees in a criminal defense matter, we will provide you with the best advice for your situation and improve your chances of emerging from the investigation unscathed.

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