Q: I am a victim of a crime, and the detective threatened me. What actions should I take?

I asked simple questions about how to get property back and a list of the property they took from my residence. He yelled at me, told me he didn't have to give me anything not even a list, told me I'll never get the property back, and that he could search my other properties and possessions if he wanted to.

2 Lawyer Answers
Will  Morehead
Will Morehead
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • San Rafael, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I would need more information to answer your question with more specificity. In particular, it is not clear from your question if the "they" who took your property is the police or the person(s) who committed a crime against you.

But the detective is incorrect if he said that he could search your other property and possessions just because "he wanted to." Generally speaking, the police can only search and seize a person's person or property after obtaining a search warrant, or if a recognized exception to obtaining a warrant applies (like the exigency exception or the automobile exception). In either case, assuming your exclusive ownership and possession of the property the police wish to search, the police would need to articulate clear probable cause that you committed a crime and that the property was instrumental to that crime.

As a crime victim in California, you have rights under Marcy's Law. https://oag.ca.gov/victimservices/marsys_law

If the case has been filed by the District Attorney's Office, you can call that office and ask to speak to a victim's advocate to discuss your concerns. Otherwise, you can consult with an attorney who does crime victim representation.

John Karas
John Karas
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Temecula, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I suggest you direct this question in Texas where you apparently reside. Laws differ in each state.

You can lodge a complaint against the detective with the city or county by whom he is employed. However, that may make you a "marked man". Police officers and/or agencies can be vindictive and follow through on the search of your other properties by getting a search warrant or taking other actions such as waiting near your house to cite you for bogus vehicle code violations, claiming you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc.. I've seen that kind of thing happen many times.

If they follow thought on their threat to search your other properties and find nothing incriminating , keep harassing you, etc. you can file a lawsuit for violation of your civil rights under state and federal law. Be aware that most states have laws that provide a qualified immunity to law enforcement officers/agencies. Most civil rights attorneys like myself are selective regarding the cases we accept on a contingency fee basis because they are expensive, take a great time and resources. At the end of the day, it will come down to how much your damages amount to.

Your better course of action may be to find out who stole your property and file a civil lawsuit against the person or persons involved.

Good luck to you.

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