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The first stage of any criminal case is an investigation by law enforcement. A pre-arrest investigation is the process by which the police gather information or evidence to determine whether a crime has occurred, identify possible suspects, and decide if an arrest should be made. Knowing how criminal investigations work and understanding your constitutional rights can make all the difference if you are ever questioned by police or arrested.
Whether you have been charged with a crime or believe that you are under investigation, there is simply too much at stake to go it alone. Working with a qualified criminal defense attorney gives you the best chance at obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. The experienced Cincinnati criminal defense team at Luftman, Heck & Associates will protect your rights at every stage of the criminal process and aggressively advocate on your behalf.
To schedule a free, initial consultation, call (513) 338-1890 today.
Initial Phase of Information/Evidence Collection
In the vast majority of cases, the police do not actually witness a crime taking place. Instead, the police are made aware of a crime or possible criminal activity by a third party and they must investigate to collect more information. The goal of this stage of the criminal investigation process is to determine if a crime has been committed and, if so, who may be responsible.
At this stage, law enforcement officers will generally collect crime-related information and/or evidence by:
- Examining, photographing, and analyzing the crime scene
- Interviewing any victims and/or potential witnesses
- Reviewing camera footage if available
- Sending physical evidence to the crime lab for testing
- Use lineups to identify suspects
Once the police have gathered enough evidence to identify suspects, they will want to speak with them. The police do not need a certain amount of evidence that you committed a crime in order to speak with you on a voluntary basis and they are not required to inform you that you are under criminal investigation. However, the police do need probable cause to obtain a warrant for your arrest.
Protecting Your Constitutional Rights During a Pre-Arrest Investigation
Asserting your constitutional rights at the very beginning of a criminal investigation can greatly impact the outcome of your case. There are two major constitutional rights you should be aware of during any police encounter–the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. You must keep in mind that anything you say during a police encounter can and will be used against you in court if you are eventually arrested and charged with a crime.
The 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects your right to remain silent when questioned by the police both before and after an arrest. If the police want to speak with you, you have the right to refuse, but you should do so in a polite manner and by informing them that you are invoking your right to remain silent.
If you have been contacted by police for an interview, you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer right away to determine if you should speak with law enforcement. If you choose to talk with the police, you have the right to an attorney and should always have your lawyer present with you during any interview law enforcement.
How and Attorney Can Help in a Criminal Investigation
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side as soon as you are accused of a crime can help you in the following ways:
- Advise you whether it is in your interest to cooperate with police
- Accompany you during pre-arrest interviews with police
- Ensure that your constitutional rights are protected throughout the investigative process
- Negotiate with the prosecutor to try and prevent charges from every being filed or push for charges to be reduced to a lesser offense
Contact a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Today for Help
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we can help you navigate the criminal investigation process, speak with law enforcement officers or prosecutors on your behalf, and fight for the charges to be dropped or reduced. We will take the time to make sure you understand your constitutional rights and answer any questions you may have about your options.
We pride ourselves on providing compassionate and effective legal representation and are ready to assist you today. To find out how we can help, contact us today at (513) 338-1890 or email us at email@example.com to schedule a free, initial legal consultation.