What Are The Common Steps Of A Criminal Investigation And Prosecution?
An investigation begins when someone reports a crime or suspicious activity, or when a police officer thinks they are seeing a crime be committed. From there, law enforcement responds and starts their investigation. This can include interviewing witnesses at the scene or talking to the reporting party to try to develop more information about what happened. This will determine if, in fact, a crime was committed, and whether they can develop a suspect or suspects in order to further prosecution. An investigation can include gathering physical evidence, as well as talking to witnesses and potential suspects in the case.
Should I Hire An Attorney If I Am Contacted By Law Enforcement And Haven’t Been Arrested?
Whether you contact an attorney depends on the nature of the conversation law enforcement is trying to have with you. If they are looking at you as a potential suspect, you should have an attorney with you, because they are looking to use anything you say against you in the future. It is important to make sure that you have somebody who is looking out for your best interest. Having an attorney present can be a buffer between you and law enforcement and be the difference between you being charged with the crime and not being charged with the crime.
Can Having An Attorney Involved Before An Arrest Impact The Type Of Charge That Might Be Filed?
An attorney can make contact with both law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case and provide them with additional information. Having an attorney onboard can allow that attorney to hire an investigator on your behalf and gather more evidence. That evidence can be turned over and used to dissuade the prosecutor from actually filing charges once they realize their case may not be as strong as law enforcement has made it out to be.
Can An Attorney Ever Intervene And Prevent Charges From Being Filed?
An attorney cannot prevent a charge if a prosecutor wants to file it. However, there are other checks and balances in place to prevent the case from getting too far along. An attorney can intervene and present evidence that no crime was committed. Unfortunately, a prosecutor could choose to disregard that. Prosecutors do not have any obligation to speak with a defense attorney ahead of charging. If the evidence that the defense has is legitimate and critical, though, it can be presented to a judge, who may then dismiss the charges. While an attorney cannot prevent the charges from being filed, they can become involved early on to make sure that the charges that are filed are less severe or dismissed quickly.
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