The Cohen Law Firm

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When does criminal defense begin?

Suppose a person is relaxing at home in Georgia when there's a sudden, loud knock on the door. The homeowner glances through a nearby window to see several uniformed police officers standing on the threshold. The officers are showing their badges and identification cards and motioning for the homeowner to open the door. In some scenarios, these circumstances may give rise to the need for a criminal defense.

With a chain lock still fastened, the homeowner opens the door a crack, at which point an officer asks a question to confirm the person's identity. The officer then asks if it's okay for them to come inside and take a look around as part of an investigation they are conducting in the area. Does the homeowner have to allow the police officers entry?

The short answer is no. In fact, if a valid search warrant has not been produced, the homeowner may step outside and lock the door behind. The request to enter can be refused unless a valid search warrant is shown.

In situations like this, it's not uncommon for police officers to say they only want to ask a few questions, which can make matters even more stressful. A person being questioned may request legal representation. Building a strong criminal defense can begin as soon as one becomes aware that he or she has been named subject in a police investigation; in fact, it can start as soon as a need is perceived. Any forced entry or other actions outside the prescribed regulations for searching a Georgia resident's home may be in violation of personal rights.  Such matters can be appropriately addressed alongside skilled defense representation.

Source: flexyourrights.org, "Police at my door: what should I do?", Accessed on Jan. 25, 2017

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