Understanding a Pre-Arrest Investigation
Many people don’t realize that they could be subject to criminal accusations without ever being formally charged. When you are suspected of committing a crime, law enforcement may choose to conduct a pre-arrest investigation in order to gather evidence against you and determine whether their suspicions are warranted. Being the subject of an investigation can be nerve-wracking: authorities will often do everything they can to try and find evidence of a crime, and that could include things that may not necessarily be connected to the original scope of the investigation.
So what can you do as a U.S. citizen to protect your rights? After all, you are innocent until you are proven guilty. Our Bellevue criminal defense lawyers will discuss pre-arrest investigations and what you can do if you find yourself the subject of one on our blog.
What Is a Pre-Arrest Investigation?
In order for law enforcement to make an arrest, they need to establish “probable cause,” or a “reasonable suspicion” based on the available evidence and circumstances that the suspected individual has committed a crime. However, in some instances this level of evidence isn’t available, and thus law enforcement can’t actually make an arrest. They can ask a suspect to submit to questioning willingly, but the suspect is in no way obligated to answer these questions.
During the course of an investigation, if the investigating authorities find enough evidence to convict the suspected individual of a crime, then the investigation will usually recommend arresting the suspected individual. If the investigation can’t do so, however, the issue will usually be dropped or the investigating team will turn their efforts elsewhere.
Defending Yourself In an Investigation
When you’re placed under investigation, you do have the opportunity to defend yourself, and it’s strongly advised that you do. It’s important to remember that you have not been formally charged with anything, and because of that fact, there is not a lot that law enforcement can do. As stated previously, they can ask you if you would be willing to submit to questioning. However, because you haven’t been accused you do not have to agree, and it’s strongly advised that you don’t. Anything you say can be used against you as incriminating evidence to further bolster the investigation’s own efforts.
You are allowed to retain an attorney who can represent you and protect your rights throughout the process as well. An attorney is allowed to be at your side during this voluntary questioning and may advise you what questions you should decline to answer as they may jeopardize your case further. Likewise, if law enforcement wish to ask you for information about things such as property you own, business dealings, or other matters, you may direct them to speak with your attorney and give them the ability to speak on your behalf so you don’t have to worry about accidentally incriminating yourself by saying something that sounded harmless but was anything but to your case.
Finally, an attorney can also help to disprove any findings during the investigation by showing where investigators may have erred in their judgement or made a mistake in their logic by presenting evidence or arguments of your own.
If you find that you’re under investigation from law enforcement, Perez & Perez Law, PLLC can help. Our team of attorneys have helped numerous clients carefully navigate investigations against them and have obtained a reputation for success. Founding partner Robert Perez graduated from Harvard Law in 1977, and today he and his daughter Sarah Perez are proud to serve their community by providing staunch, client-focused advocacy and counsel to those facing accusations and investigations.To request a case evaluation or retain high-quality criminal defense counsel services, call the Seattle criminal defense lawyers at Perez & Perez Law, PLLC at (425) 967-8800 today!