Hearing a loud knock on the door and seeing several uniformed officers with serious looks on their faces who are asking to come inside and "take a look around" is a frightening situation many young adults in Indiana have experienced. If the officers are granted entry, and they claim to discover something that raises suspicion of illegal drug activity. The result of such a visit might wind up with one or more persons handcuffed and shuffled off to the backseat of a police car.
You might already be aware that you do not have to allow investigators into your home without the existence of a valid search warrant. You also do not have to answer any questions beyond those regarding basic information, such as your name and whether you live at the residence in question. Any additional information you provide could possibly be incriminating if you wind up being taken into custody and charged with a drug crime.
Options for addressing police at your door
Whether you're aware of why there might be police officers standing at your door, or their visit has taken you by complete surprise, remaining calm and acting politely may be the best way to minimize the potential negative effects of the situation. Keeping the following things in mind might help:
- Any time a police officer is asking questions, it amounts to an investigation (whether or not you are being officially interrogated) because anything you say or do can later be used against you in court.
- You have the right (under the Fourth Amendment) to remain silent.
- You also have the right to request immediate assistance from a defense attorney.
- If law enforcement agents produce a valid search warrant, you do have to allow them into your home but you do not have to discuss any issue in detail without legal representation present.
- There are strict regulations that officers and other investigators must follow when conducting any search or seizure inside your home, vehicle or upon your person.
Failure to adhere to prescribed protocol might be a violation of your personal rights, in which case you can challenge any charges brought against you in court.
Challenging charges and exploring other defense options
Going to jail and facing charges for a drug crime can be a humiliating experience. Your family members and neighbors might understandably become alarmed and worry about your well-being. Since not all drug charges in Indiana (or elsewhere) lead to convictions, knowing your rights, seeking clarification of state laws and making informed decisions are key factors to obtaining a positive outcome. The following are some of the most common defense options:
- If you were visiting the home that was searched or wearing borrowed clothing when police patted you down, you may be able to build a strong defense by claiming the drugs authorities say were found in your possession did not belong to you.
- If prosecutors are unable to produce the exact drugs they claim to have found in your possession, your attorney can fight the charges by stating lack of sufficient evidence.
- The option to request a crime lab analysis may also be appropriate in your particular case. This strategy can often demonstrate that a substance seized by police might look like an illegal drug but actually wasn't one.
You no doubt want to protect your rights and preserve your reputation as much as possible when a situation has developed that includes allegations of criminal offense against you. By choosing to allow an experienced defense advocate to aggressively fight charges on your behalf, you may be able to avoid conviction and keep the incident from causing long-term negative repercussions in your life.