Do you have to let them in? Are you legally obligated to answer their questions? Regardless whether this type of situation occurs in Rhode Island or elsewhere, you have rights, and federal agents (if they are who they say they are) must adhere to strict regulations so as not to violate those rights.
Do you know your rights?
If you were just sitting around, relaxing (maybe watching some sports or a movie on TV) and the next thing you knew, you were standing face to face with strangers asking to enter your house, your adrenaline would likely be soaring, perhaps making it difficult to think clearly.
Knowing your rights ahead of time may help you stay calm and avoid extreme anxiety if a problem arises. Here are a few basics to keep in mind:
- You do not have to let anyone inside your home if they do not have appropriate identification.
- Even if they do successfully identify themselves as federal investigators, you still do not have to let them inside, unless they have an arrest or search warrant.
- If they show a valid warrant, you are required to allow them entrance into your home but do not have to answer any questions other than those regarding your name and address.
- You may request immediate assistance from a criminal defense attorney before you discuss anything beyond your name and address with federal investigators.
Many agents who work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also lawyers. Therefore, they are well aware of your personal rights and must act accordingly so as not to violate them in any way.
What if you are charged with a federal crime?
You may already be aware of your own rights, yet wind up facing a very frightening situation if investigators claim to find illegal drugs in your home. Even under such circumstances, your rights are not nullified.
You are presumed innocent unless proved otherwise in court. From the moment they take you into custody, there are several things you can do to fight the charges against you. One of the most logical steps is to request a meeting with a criminal lawyer.
A defense attorney who has successfully defended others at the federal level understands how aggressive government prosecutors tend to be in their attempts to obtain convictions when individuals face federal drug charges.
Is it possible to avoid conviction?
As your personal advocate, your defense attorney can take immediate action to begin building a strong defense. The following list is by no means extensive, but shows some basic ways in which a skilled criminal lawyer may be able to help you avoid conviction:
- By investigating the process under which the search, seizure and arrest took place to determine whether any of your personal rights were violated
- By gathering evidence that may help defend you against federal drug crime charges
- By requesting that charges be dismissed if evidence exists to show they are not valid
- By challenging evidence proffered by the prosecution if it is determined your rights were indeed violated in some way
- By acting as your personal representative in all interactions with law enforcement agents and court officials to help minimize the potential negative impact of the situation
If you have already lived through a scenario like the one described above and are now facing federal drug charges in Rhode Island, you can be proactive in seeking as positive an outcome as possible. Generally speaking, the best way to do that is to enlist the aid of someone who is prepared to launch an aggressive defense on your behalf in court.