The Police Showed Up But I Left | Was Not There | Rhodes Legal Group, PLLC (2023)

The Police Showed Up but I Left | Wasn’t There: A Criminal Defense Attorney’s Perspective

Clients deliberately or inadvertently leave a crime scene and the police show up. Will the case go away? Will police officers come looking? Will a warrant be issued? Will they receive charging paperwork in the mail? As criminal defense attorneys | lawyers we field this question a lot. The answer depends on (1) how bad the facts are and (2) how serious the potential charges are. The answer can range from the case will never be filed as a criminal charge, to you will get arraignment paperwork in the mail, to a warrant will be issued, to a full-scale manhunt with warrants and freeway traffic alerts are already underway. Answering this question is not an exact science but our office is long on experience and common sense.

Leaving to Get Some Space or Avoid Arrest. Some clients leave the scene of a fight or argument because it was getting or had gotten out of control and they needed to cool off or get away. Some clients leave a domestic violence situation because they are afraid that the officers will arrest them because of the mandatory arrest provisions surrounding Domestic Violence. Some clients leave the scene because they know they have committed a crime and do not want to be arrested.

  1. Regardless of why you left, officers generally will look for you if they have an idea of where you are and it is close. They will often search the immediate geographic vicinity of a crime scene, as they do not want to leave only to have someone return, and reengage an alleged victim or have evidence destroyed. Depending on the seriousness of the underlying crime and on the number of other calls that night, they may immediately follow up leads to locate you.
  2. If the victim indicates that you are dangerous or that you have a previous record that would lead an officer to believe you could be dangerous, a warrant may be issued or searches may get increasingly intensive. In general, the more serious the crime is, the more serious the investigation.
  3. If the crime is for a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor (lower level crimes) and you have no criminal history, your chances are much better that a warrant will not be issued assuming the right facts. Felony charges (higher level crimes) are highly fact specific.
  4. Even if you were not arrested and no warrant was issued, this does not mean a case has gone away; officers can still turn in paperwork and prosecuting attorneys can still file charges and mail you an arraignment date. Failure to appear at an arraignment is almost always an automatic warrant. Make sure your Washington State Identification Card or drivers license has a correct and up to date mailing address and have this mail-checked daily. We check the court system weekly for arraignment dates for retained clients.

Turning yourself in. In our experience as criminal defense attorneys | lawyers, we can say, in general, choosing to turn yourself in puts you in a better position with the judge who will set your release conditions and bail. There are exceptions where it won’t matter; but, again, we speak in general terms. If you left or fled a crime and later realize it is best to deal with it, our office can help make this process as clean and painless as possible by advising you as to the process, arranging for your arrest and turn in, prearranging for a bail bondsman and pre-preparing for arguments surrounding release conditions at arraignment. Affirmatively dealing with criminal issues is always better than being picked up and brought into court on a warrant. One decision indicates a willingness to be reasonable and has respect for the law; the other indicates that you are a flight risk and demonstrates a lack of respect for the law. Contact our office for an appointment to discuss your situation.

The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled an enormous number of complicated cases in the criminal arena over the course of our lengthy criminal law careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police reports claim and our clients hire us because they want staunch and effective counsel who takes the time to make sure their clients’ rights are protected. Whether our role is as legal counsel, negotiator, or litigator, we have years of experience fighting and resolving cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.County District Court, Grant County Superior Court, Lincoln County District Court, Adams County Superior Court, Spokane County District Court, Spokane County Superior Court and Whitman County District Court.


What happens if someone calls the police on you and you leave? ›

Regardless of why you left, officers generally will look for you if they have an idea of where you are and it is close. They will often search the immediate geographic vicinity of a crime scene, as they do not want to leave only to have someone return, and reengage an alleged victim or have evidence destroyed.

How do you know if the police are looking for you? ›

You are visited or contacted by the police – The most common way to tell if the police are investigating you is if they confront you personally. You may find police showing up at your home, place of work, or reaching out to you by phone to ask questions about a criminal case.

Why would the police leave a note on my door? ›

Why would a sheriff leave a note on my door? Normally this occurs when a lawsuit has been filed against you. You might be sued by one of your creditors, like a bank or credit card company. It could also be a lawsuit from a debt collector who has acquired your debt account.

Why would the cops be looking for me? ›

Summary: There are many reasons a sheriff might be looking for you. There could be a warrant out for your arrest if you have committed a crime, or they might be trying to serve you court documents for a civil lawsuit. If you've been sued for debt, a sheriff may serve you the court papers.

Is it ok not to answer a cop if you are talking to them and they are questioning you? ›

Do I have to answer questions asked by law enforcement officers? No. You have the constitutional right to remain silent. In general, you do not have to talk to law enforcement officers (or anyone else), even if you do not feel free to walk away from the officer, you are arrested, or you are in jail.

Is it a crime to talk back to a police officer? ›

It's protected under free speech. A cop can't arrest you for saying it, but they can and have made life miserable for such offenders.

How do I know if my phone is being monitored by police? ›

Unusual sounds during calls

If there are clicking sounds, static, or distant voices coming through your phone during conversations it could be a sign that you're being snooped on. This is not normal for today's phones on digital networks.

How do I know if my phone is under surveillance? ›

If you have an Android phone, one of the best ways to find out whether spyware is installed on your phone is to download an anti-spyware app like Certo Mobile Security. This app will do a full scan of your device and inform you whether there are any apps that are bugging your phone.

What to do if you think you are under surveillance? ›

If you're feeling anxious or stressed because you think you might be under surveillance, you should contact your GP. They may be able to suggest ways to deal with the distress you feel as a result of this situation.

Why would the police knock on my door at 4am? ›

Just because it's 4am doesn't mean the warrant isn't valid or they should come back when it's convenient for you. If it's 4am and they are serving a warrant, it's because the warrant is for something important, and they want to get you at a time when you are less likely to dodge it.

Why would the police send me a certified letter? ›

If you receive this letter you should be aware that you are under criminal investigation and should contact a criminal defense attorney. If police had enough probable cause to arrest you, they would have done so already. They are sending you this letter because they still need more evidence in order to arrest.

Why do police take notes? ›

This means that an officer must record their notes as soon as it is safe or practicable to do so. The notes will reflect what the investigator thought, what they did and what they observed. Notes allow the officer to be accountable for their actions but also to be held accountable by others.

Are police allowed to look around your house? ›

If you learn about a police officer searching any part of your property without your permission or a warrant, you could potentially challenge the search or any evidence gathered, and it may be deemed an unlawful and unreasonable search.

How can you tell if someone is undercover? ›

Things You Should Know

An undercover officer often looks oddly well-groomed. They might have an oversized jacket, brand-new clothes, cargo pants, and a gun hidden beneath their pants. Watch out for any stranger who seems oddly friendly or doesn't fit in with the setting.

Why do cops look at your eyes? ›

The early onset of nystagmus during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test can be used as evidence that the driver is under the influence of alcohol and may provide probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Do cops have to say yes if you ask them if he's a cop? ›

When police officers are working undercover, they are legally allowed to lie about anything, including their identity. So, if a person asks an undercover police officer whether he is a cop, he or she can lie and say they are not a cop.

Can you walk away from a police officer? ›

Can I Walk Away From a Police Officer? Unless a police officer has probable cause to make an arrest, reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop and frisk, or a warrant, a person generally has the legal right to walk away from the officer.

Can police listen to your conversations? ›

The police must first obtain a wiretap order before eavesdropping on your phone conversations. This is similar to a warrant.

Is it illegal to tell a cop to shut up? ›

Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, so non-threatening verbal abuse of a police officer is not in itself criminal behavior, though some courts have disagreed on what constitutes protected speech in this regard.

Is it illegal to insult a police officer in us? ›

Insulting someone is not illegal anywhere in this country. In fact, insulting someone is an act that is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Can you be disrespectful to a cop? ›

To be clear, there isn't a law that specifically forbids yelling, swearing or otherwise being rude to a law enforcement officer – as long as you're not threatening to harm them or someone else. This is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Can police see your phone remotely? ›

There are many backups of data on your phone. Anything saved outside of your device can be accessed by law enforcement if they follow the correct and established legal routes to do so.

Does *# 21 tell you if your phone is tapped? ›

Code to check if phone is tapped: *#21# Code to show unknown connections and tracking (for Android): *#*#4636#*#* or *#*#197328640#*#* Code to show unknown connections and if someone is tracing you (for iPhone): *3001#12345#* Code to find your phone if lost or stolen (for Android): *#*#1472365#*#*

Can police hear you through your phone? ›

Obtaining a Wiretap Order

Can police listen to phone conversations on your landline or cell? Yes, they can potentially listen in on both under certain conditions. Wiretaps can provide supportive evidence against people suspected of criminal activity.

Can someone see you through your cell phone camera? ›

No device is completely immune to security risks, and it is still important for users to be cautious and alert. There's a chance someone could be spying on you through your smartphone camera.

How do I block my phone from being tracked? ›

The best way to block phone tracking is to use a VPN. But you can also change a few settings on your phone or switch to a different browser to stop tracking. You can hide your location via settings, block ad tracking with a dedicated private browser, and encrypt all of your internet traffic with a VPN.

Can someone watch you through your phone? ›

It's even possible for someone to monitor your cell phone's activity without ever even touching it. Mobile spyware, sometimes called stalkerware, can be installed onto your phone to monitor information such as calls, text messages, emails, location, photos, and browsing history.

What are examples of illegal surveillance? ›

Some examples of eavesdropping may include:
  • Recording a conversation between patrons at a nearby table at a restaurant using your laptop or cell phone.
  • Listening in on your neighbor's conversations via a police scanner radio.
  • Listening in on and recording a meeting between your boss and another coworker.

How do I block surveillance? ›

Block Off Security Cameras with Grown Trees, Fences or Curtain. Another good way to blind your neighbor's security cameras is to plant a grouping of shrubs or grown trees that are tall enough to block off where the camera is aimed. Also, you can close the curtain or shade on the window to block security cameras.

What happens if the police knock and you don't answer? ›

If the police knock on your door and you didn't call them or need their assistance, you can simply decline to answer the door. Unless they have a warrant, they will eventually leave. You can talk with the officers through a cracked door protected by a chain lock. Calmly and respectfully ask, “How can I help you?”.

Why do police touch your car before coming to the window? ›

If the police officer believes they are in a dangerous situation as they pull you over, they may touch the backend of your vehicle on the way to your window to make sure the trunk is latched. It might sound bizarre, but this tactic ensures that no one is hiding in the trunk and could pop out.

Why do police touch your car when they walk up behind it? ›

The gesture is part of a protocol used in the United States, among other countries. The police officer approaches the trunk of the car on the driver's side and places one hand on the back end. By doing so, they ensure that the trunk is closed and that no one will jump out of it.

Should I ignore certified mail? ›

It's not illegal to refuse certified mail. And if you have no idea what it is or who the person is who sent it, it makes sense to be wary of it. However, there may be consequences for refusing certified mail. It can count against you if the sender has to hire a process server to complete the task.

Who usually sends certified letters? ›

Even though individuals send certified mail, it's most common for businesses to send it. People commonly receive certified mail from attorneys, the IRS, debtors, jury duty, etc. Due to the security of this type of mail, it is a great way to send legal documents.

What happens if you don't respond to a certified letter? ›

The post office will hold undelivered USPS certified mail for 15 days before returning it to the sender.

Why do cops check your tongue? ›

Believe it or not, police contend they can detect recent drug use based on whether or not a suspect's tongue is green!

Do police keep notes on people? ›

Most police officers are trained to write notes, often on the back of your ticket, with details about why you were ticketed and what the conditions were when you were ticketed.

Should you always record the police? ›

It's best to do so politely, directly, and without using profanity. Don't taunt the police. It is best to record the police without saying anything at all. If you have information that pertains to the situation, explain just that: I have information that can help with your investigation.

Can a cop shine a flashlight in your house? ›

Merely shining a flashlight in a person's home by a law enforcement officer does not amount in an of itself to a Fourth Amendment violation of one's Constitutional Rights in that a view though open windows of one's home of what can be plainly seen through illumination has been allowed my many appellate court cases in ...

Why would a cop knock on my door? ›

When they have your permission. The reason cops show up and knock on your door is because they need permission to come inside. Many people will let the police into their homes, not realizing that they can't retract that permission once the officer notices some evidence of criminal activity.

How do I know if I am under police surveillance? ›

Confirming Physical Surveillance

Assume you're under surveillance if you see someone repeatedly over time, in different environments and over distance. For good measure, a conspicuous display of poor demeanor, or the person acting unnaturally, is another sign that you might be under surveillance.

How do you know if cops are looking for you? ›

You are visited or contacted by the police – The most common way to tell if the police are investigating you is if they confront you personally. You may find police showing up at your home, place of work, or reaching out to you by phone to ask questions about a criminal case.

How do you tell if undercover cops are following you? ›

5 Signs an Undercover Cop is Watching You
  1. Strange Phone Interference. Wiretaps are commonly used as a means of listening in on a target's phone conversations. ...
  2. Subtle Changes Around Your Home. ...
  3. Unexplained Service Workers Near Your Home. ...
  4. Receiving Strange Gifts. ...
  5. You Feel Like You're Being Followed.
Sep 23, 2021

How do cops know if someone is lying? ›

Law enforcement can tell when suspects are lying, usually beginning with an initial 911 call or first interview. "The 911 call and initial statements are among the most important pieces of evidence should a case go to trial," said Stacy Dittrich, a former Ohio police detective, crime expert and author.

What is it called when the cops hide you? ›

The act of hiding by law enforcement agents is usually referred to as entrapment, this is not always the case.

How do police officers tell if someone is lying? ›

Incongruent Responses Police Officers Look For

By doing so, they can gauge how a person normally communicates, carries their body, talks with their hand, and uses expressions. Then, they start asking relevant questions and look for changes in those behaviours.

Can I call the police on someone who won't leave me alone? ›

If a lodger in California refuses to leave after 30 days, they can be kicked out without going through a court-ordered eviction process, because after the 30-day mark, they are officially trespassing. At this point, you could call the police.

Can you find out who called police on you? ›

Calls to the police are a matter of public record. You can ask the police officer who comes to your door who called. If they know, they will try to figure out if it's best to tell you. If they don't; they will tell you it was anonymous.

What happens if you call the cops then hang up? ›

If you do hang up, they will call you back to confirm that you are safe. If no one answers the attempted call back, the Law Enforcement Officers will be dispatched to your location to ascertain the nature of the call.

Can police ignore your calls? ›

When you call 911 in an emergency, the police don't have to respond to your call. If someone breaks into your house or your partner threatens to hurt you, the police don't have to respond. If you report a neighbor's continual slashing of your tires, the cops can ignore your calls.

Can I walk away from the police? ›

Can I Walk Away From a Police Officer? Unless a police officer has probable cause to make an arrest, reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop and frisk, or a warrant, a person generally has the legal right to walk away from the officer.

Can a police officer pull you over for a reason or in the absence of one in Canada? ›

Police officers can stop you under three general circumstances: 1. If they suspect that you have committed a crime 2. If they see you committing a crime 3. If you are driving.

Is someone not leaving you alone harassment? ›

Yes. If someone asks for space and you don't respect it then that is harrassment. If someone says no and you keep pestering it's harassment. Ignoring a person's boundaries repeatedly is harrassment.

Can police track someone by phone number? ›

In short, police cannot track cell phone location data without a warrant. Read on for more about the Supreme Court's decision, and contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney with any questions.

Can police listen to your phone calls? ›

Yes, the authorities can obtain access to your phone and eavesdrop on your phone calls. However, the state of California has strict laws regarding police listening to phone calls, so it is important to know and fully understand these laws.

Can you call a cop names? ›

Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, so non-threatening verbal abuse of a police officer is not in itself criminal behavior, though some courts have disagreed on what constitutes protected speech in this regard.

Can you call a cop whatever you want? ›

Technically, yes. You have a first amendment right to free speech and free expression. That means you can tell a cop exactly what's on your mind and, provided you do it in a civil manner and do not cause a public disturbance, it should be a protected form of expression.

What happens if you talk back to the police? ›

Can the officer arrest you just for being rude or talking back to them? Yes, they can, but no, they shouldn't. While it isn't necessarily the best idea to mouth off to a police officer, doing so is not in and of itself a crime and should not result in you being arrested or charged.

What percentage of 911 calls are accidental? ›

Approximately 20-30% of 911 calls are considered non-emergencies, false alarms, or accidental calls.

What is the most common complaint against police? ›

The most common state claims brought against police officers are for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and use of excessive or unreasonable force.

Can police intercept cell phone calls? ›

Lawful interception

In the United States, the government pays phone companies directly to record and collect cellular communications from specified individuals. U.S. law enforcement agencies can also legally track the movements of people from their mobile phone signals upon obtaining a court order to do so.

Can cops trace no caller ID? ›

Yes, it might be possible for them to do this. Any caller ID blocking function is defeated when you call the police, either on the emergency lines or on the non-emergency lines. They can see the number that you are using to dial them and they can trace that number to a physical address if it is a landline.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated: 02/10/2023

Views: 5331

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.