Learning that you are being investigated for a crime, whether you actually committed the crime or not, is at least unsettling and at worst terrifying. There are several ways you may find out you are under investigation.
The police may come by your house or place of business to request an interview. They could also come by with a search warrant or a subpoena for your business or personal records. Another way you can find out you are under investigation is learning that friends, associates or family members are being investigated for an incident in which you were involved.
If any of these things happen to you, there are steps you can take to ensure the best possible outcome. Remember that the things you do now can greatly influence the results of the investigation later.
When you find out you are being investigated for a crime, your first reaction may be to panic. You may rush out to explain yourself to the police, or you may try to destroy evidence or threaten people who could testify against you. If you react from a place of desperation, you could very well say or do something that helps the police build a case against you. So, even if your throat is dry and your heart is pounding, keep a calm demeanor.
Tell the police you will talk to them once you have obtained legal advice. If they have a search warrant or a subpoena, allow them access to only the areas or records mentioned in the warrant. No matter how upset you are, speak respectfully and don’t lose your temper.
Hire a Lawyer
Harron Law can help walk you through the process of the investigation. He or she can sit with you through police interrogations and help you gather information about your case. Sometimes if there is limited evidence, police will drop the investigation entirely when they learn you have obtained legal counsel.
When you retain an attorney, find someone who is experienced in criminal law. Ask him or her about similar cases he or she has handled. Find out if he or she is willing to go to trial if necessary. Some lawyers don’t like court cases and prefer to plea bargain.
It is also important to choose an attorney whom you trust. As the case progresses, you may have to discuss personal issues with your lawyer. You must be honest, even if the truth is embarrassing, so find someone with whom you can speak freely.
Learn as Much as You Can
If you’re under investigation for a crime, you’ll want to find out everything you can about the case. Your lawyer can be a huge help with this. He or she can talk to the police and get information from them that might not be available to you. Once you know what you may be charged with and what evidence the police have against you, you and your lawyer can start planning a defense strategy.
Collect Documents Pertaining to Your Case
Once you and your attorney have determined why you are being investigated, gather all the documents that you can that pertain to your case. Go over them with your lawyer and then keep them in a secure location like a fireproof safe.
This ensures that you have any documents that the prosecution – or the defense – might need and that you can lay your hands on them quickly. A word to the wise: Don’t turn over evidence to the people conducting the investigation unless your lawyer tells you that you must. Usually, you are not required to turn over documents unless the police have a subpoena for your records or a search warrant.
Whatever you do, don’t destroy documents even if they could incriminate you. If you are convicted of tampering with evidence, you could still go to jail, even if you are cleared of the original charge.
Don’t Talk to Potential Witnesses
If you are under investigation for a crime, you may feel angry and anxious. When threatened, it is human nature to take action. It is tempting to go to the potential witnesses against you and try to talk them out of testifying against you. For instance, you may tell them your side of the case: “I didn’t hit her. What you heard was my fist hitting the wall.”
Talking to witnesses, though, is a bad idea. You could be charged with the additional crime of witness tampering which carries stiff fines and even jail sentences. If you feel there is something to be gained from speaking to a witness, tell your lawyer and let him or her take care of it.
Whether you are innocent or guilty, being under investigation for a crime is unnerving. You may want to act foolishly in the vain hope that you can make the investigation go away. Your best hope for a good outcome, however, is to keep your wits about you and find an experienced criminal attorney to help you through the investigation. Of course, there are no guarantees, but your attorney can provide you with the best possible guidance and increase your chances of coming through the investigation unscathed.