I Am Under Criminal Investigation, What Should I Do?
Most individuals contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer after discovering that they are under investigation because they are suspected of having committed a crime. This is the right choice, by contacting an attorney before you have been accused of a crime; you are providing LACL more opportunities to defeat any criminal charges against you. However, most people who discover they are under investigation are naturally concerned about the implications of being under investigation in the first place. What can they expect to happen? Will they be put in jail? Is it necessary to have an attorney representing you while you are under investigation? What should they do?
This article will focus on the last question, what you should do if you are under investigation. The best thing anybody can do for themselves is to contact an attorney the moment they discover they are under investigation
1. Contact an attorney immediately
There are significant benefits to having an attorney in your corner before criminal charges are pressed against you. Most importantly, it is possible to avoid criminal charges altogether. Having an attorney, who is well-versed in the law, can provide your attorney with effective ammunition against future prosecution.
It is important to note that people who are asking you questions about crimes you may have committed is a preliminary effort to obtain evidence. They are not making conversation; they are trying to build a case against you!
2. Do not talk to the person asking you questions, and resist the urge to talk about what you are under investigation for.
As mentioned above, if you are under investigation people are attempting to gain information they can utilize to press charges and ultimately obtain a conviction. You are not required to talk to anyone. Law enforcement may show up at your residence, produce a warrant, and search your house; this does not mean you are obligated to answer any of their questions. If a warrant is presented, your only obligation is to allow law enforcement to complete the search. If law enforcement approaches you and asks to search anything, they do not have the legal right to do so. You are under no obligation to allow them to conduct a search either.
The first response of most people who have discovered that they are under investigation on suspicion that they committed a crime is to discuss the events with other people. Do not do this. Investigators will also approach your friends and family in an effort to extract information you may have shared with them. Everyone responds differently when approached by law enforcement, and even body language can provide information to the observant investigator. People who are tasked with investigating crimes are highly trained in the art of extracting useful information and reading body language. Even people you trust completely can accidentally give an investigator the exact information they need to pursue charges against. If you are under investigation, resist the urge to talk to anyone about it.
3. DO NOT destroy evidence
It is imperative that you do not destroy evidence after you discover that you are under investigation for the commission of a crime. Aside from the destruction of evidence being a crime itself, if the Prosecution can show that you destroyed evidence, they may be able to invoke presumptions that the evidence was “bad for you.” While some evidence may be damaging to your case, a skilled attorney can mitigate the effect of that evidence by either forcing it to be excluded from evidence for any number of reasons, or introducing other evidence which casts the evidence in a different light. The simple fact that evidence exists, which could point to your guilt, does not mean that it can’t be used to help your case as well.
4. Avoid Lying
The act of lying to law enforcement could be pursued as an independent crime, and could enhance penalties you face if you are ultimately convicted. Additionally, investigators are extensively trained to identify when someone is being dishonest with them. This in turn will heighten their suspicion, and induce them to pursue information about you more vigorously. You are never obligated to speak to law enforcement, and can opt to remain silent or contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer. Remember, every piece of information you provide to law enforcement when you are under investigation could be used as evidence later. The less the Prosecution has, the more likely you are to achieve a favorable outcome to your case.
What Does it Mean to be Under Investigation?
If you are under investigation for the commission of a crime, which means that local law enforcement suspects that you have committed a crime. Once they suspect you have committed a crime, local law enforcement will begin searching for evidence that ties you to that crime. If you are under investigation, this does not mean that you will be arrested; it is possible that you will be arrested in the future though.
The investigation is the initial phase of a criminal case. During this period of time, investigators will contact you, your friends, and your family in an effort to obtain information which will lead to evidence linking you to the crime; this could be tangible evidence or testimonial evidence. As mentioned above, everyone responds to questioning by law enforcement differently. It is undoubtedly a stressful situation, and people tend to talk too much while they are stressed. The investigators are highly trained professionals, and their skill set includes asking questions designed to force an individual to incriminate themselves. Additionally, the investigators are trained to identify non-verbal cues, which in turn will lead them to ask “the right questions” to cause a person to tell them everything they want to know. Remember, if you are being investigated, they are attempting to obtain evidence sufficient to arrest you. If the investigation is sufficient, they will obtain “probable cause” to believe you committed the crime, which in turn will be used to obtain an arrest warrant.
Investigation begins in a phase of the criminal process known as the “pre-filing” stage. At this point, law enforcement is attempting to gather evidence tying you to the case, or suggesting you would be a useful witness for the Prosecution. At this point, investigators may contact you, your friends, or your family. It must be reiterated that you are not required to talk to the investigator, stop for the investigator, or be helpful to the investigator. If you are being questioned, do not wait until you are arrested to contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, the more time your attorney has to build your defense, the better the outcome of any future cases against you.
While the United States Constitution establishes that you only have a right to an attorney at “critical stages” of the criminal case, this refers to Court Appointed Counsel; you are always free to have an attorney representing you. Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer believes that having representation while you are under investigation will vastly improve your chances of not being charged with a crime in the first place.
Once you have contacted Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we will schedule an initial consultation. In his consultation, you will gain the benefit of “attorney-client privilege.” This will be your first opportunity to be truly candid about every aspect of the crime you are under investigation for; California requires that California attorneys maintain the confidence of their client at every peril to themselves. This means LACL cannot disclose any information you provide them in your consultation. Once LACL has a full picture of all the pieces of the puzzle, we will begin building the strongest defense possible; every piece of information is useful. As a result of attorney-client privilege, it is critical that you discuss everything in an open and candid manner, our job is not to pass judgment on you, it is to ensure that your rights are protected and you receive a fair trial. Often times this means excluding critical evidence that may suggest your guilt, but that was obtained in violation of your rights. Our job is to protect you.
A conviction for a crime can come in the form of a misdemeanor, or a felony, the distinction has a bearing on the penalties you could face if you are convicted. For example, a conviction will remain on your criminal background, and is discoverable by anyone who conducts a background check. The most frequent example of this is potential employers conducting background checks on potential employees in an effort to screen out people they deem as undesirable. Frequently a criminal conviction is an “undesirable” trait in an employee.
A prior conviction may also be introduced in subsequent criminal charges against you in an effort to make you appear as though you are a career criminal. The prior conviction may also be introduced in a case where you are a witness in an effort to make you seem less trustworthy. Further, prior convictions can have the effect of enhancing the penalties associated with future crimes, if you are convicted. To avoid the detrimental consequences associated with a criminal conviction, contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer immediately if you are under investigation for a crime.
If you have any reason to believe that you are under investigation for the commission of a crime in Los Angeles County, do not hesitate to contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer. Having competent counsel in your corner can have a significant impact on the outcome of our case. Additionally, it will provide LACL additional time to perfect their defensive theory, and will ultimate increase your chances of beating any charges that may be brought against you in the future. As a brief recap, if you are under investigation in Los Angeles County you should: (1) Contact LACL immediately, (2) Avoid talking to anyone, except for your attorney, about what you are being investigated for, (3) Avoid destroying evidence; and (4) avoid lying.
It bears repeating, if you are approached by an investigator, or other person inquiring about crime, you do not have to speak or cooperate with them unless they have a warrant to search your person or property. If they do have a warrant, your only obligation is to allow them to search your person or property; you do not have to speak. Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer has nearly three decades experience successfully representing clients accused of criminal conduct, we know what investigators are looking for, and we can provide extra protection to our clients if we are involved during the investigation process. If you or a loved one is under investigation in Los Angeles County, contact us today at 310-502-1314 for a FREE consultation.