Why do I need a lawyer if I’m just under criminal investigation?: South Florida Attorney Explains the Benefits
It’s never too early to retain a lawyer to walk you through the criminal process. Regardless of whether or not you think the police’s investigation will turn up any evidence, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you. The earlier the better.
Having a legal advocate by your side not only helps you through the process, but they will help identify any issues where the government may be over-stretching their authority. Having a criminal defense attorney by your side through every step of the investigation, possible arrest, and following legal proceedings is absolutely imperative to getting the best outcome for your particular case.
What Happens When You’re Being Investigated for a Crime in Florida?
If police are conducting a criminal investigation, they may show up at your home with a search warrant or an arrest warrant. Typically, the police can execute a search warrant that has been lawfully obtained and issued by a judge - even if you do not have legal counsel present.
Having legal counsel present, however, can be extremely beneficial in cases like this because your attorney can review the search warrant and make sure that officers are only looking in places where the evidence could be found and that they do not take anything else that isn’t specifically outlined in the warrant. For example, if the warrant specifically states that the officers are allowed to search for a flat-screen TV, officers cannot look in places where a flat-screen TV could not be found. So they couldn’t look in a medicine cabinet, a small cupboard, or refrigerator because those are not reasonable places a flat-screen TV could be found. Having a criminal defense attorney present at this stage of the investigation could help as the attorney could take note of the illegal searches and seizures occurring and either talk to the officers on-scene or already know that they have one battle to fight in a future court hearing.
If the attorney is there to observe the search first-hand, it can really help them see exactly what the scenario was and make their own determination of what was or was not illegally obtained to help you fight your case.
Benefits of Obtaining a Lawyer While Involved in a Florida Criminal Investigation
If counsel is obtained early on in a criminal investigation, it really helps you build your case as far as witnesses that can help testify for you at trial or any hearings if you are arrested.
For example, if officers suspect you’ve committed a particular crime or offense, they will likely go looking for people that may have either witnessed the alleged offense or people that may know you were allegedly planning on committing the said offense. Once they ask those individuals for information relating to the alleged offense, your attorney can also contact those same individuals to get a better idea of what they saw. If they are testifying that you allegedly committed the offense, your attorney can ask specific questions regarding what they witnessed/heard/saw and try to find parts of their narrative that don’t make sense logically and try to poke holes in what they are saying.
Even better, your attorney can try to find people who’ve witnessed what allegedly occurred that can say, “It was a misunderstanding”, or, “That’s not how it happened” and those people would be great witnesses for the defense. Either way, it’s extremely helpful to defense attorneys to be able to work your case from the ground up at the start of the investigation and to know just exactly what people are going to say and what they have to work with.
Getting to speak with witnesses as soon as possible is a great benefit to your attorney, as - very practically - that is when memories will be most fresh and accurate.
Investigations Include Interrogations in Florida
You will likely be interrogated or questioned during the investigation stage, and at that point, the officers most likely would have read you your Miranda rights.
During interrogation, you have the right to have a defense attorney present and the right to have them present during the entire interrogation. Another important thing to note is that if you cannot afford a private defense attorney, one will be provided to you. You must ask for one at this point. Having an attorney present during this stage of the investigation can help you ensure that you do not unwillingly or unknowingly waive your Miranda rights, and that you do not answer any questions that may be harmful to your case later down the line. You can legally deny answering any questions until an attorney is with you for the interrogation.
If you did not have an attorney at this time, however, all hope is not lost. Your defense attorney will have to fight any statements you gave in court after proceedings have begun, but there’s no guarantee those statements will be suppressed by the judge; it simply depends on the facts of your particular case. It is best to have a defense attorney available to you for all aspects regarding the case, but if you are not able to do so, it is important to obtain counsel at the first chance you get.
What if my Investigation is Already Over… Now What?
Even if the investigation stage has already passed and you weren’t able to retain a defense attorney until after your arrest, it is still absolutely imperative to get a great criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
After an arrest is made, all the information the officers collected during their investigation gets sent to the State Attorney’s Office who will then decide whether or not they will be filing formal charges and what those formal charges will be.
If you have already obtained defense counsel, this can be extremely beneficial to you. Defense counsel can call the filing Assistant State Attorney to see where their head is at, gauge what kind of charges may be filed and what to expect and they can also put pressure on the state prosecutors regarding such charges. Once defense attorneys are able to review the facts and circumstances of your case, they can somewhat predict what charges may be filed and try to get a lesser charge in the beginning before they are filed, rather than fighting the charges later down the road. The state prosecutors ultimately have the final say regarding charges, but it is of course best to have a defense attorney before the charges are formally filed to help you advocate for an easier charge to fight in the first place.
All in all, it is in your best interest to have a defense attorney available when you suspect a criminal investigation may begin. If you were unable to obtain one before or during the investigation, call one as soon as you are able to so that the attorney can start working up your case.
In a best case scenario, hiring a lawyer while you're under investigation can avoid an arrest and avoid any formal charges being filed against you.
Under investigation in South Florida? Schedule a Free Strategy Session with our Award-Winning Attorneys
If you have any questions, or need additional information about hiring a criminal defense attorney in South Florida for when you’re under investigation, don’t hesitate to call Rossen Law Firm. We offer free consultations and take the time to hear your story and let you know how we would plan to fight for you - starting immediately.