Some of my clients are arrested for a crime. Others are the subjects of criminal investigations. These investigations come before an arrest is made, and are usually conducted by a detective or investigator from a state or local agency, looking into allegations that the individual has committed a crime.
When there is probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime, that person is arrested and subject to the criminal court process.
However, when probable cause has not yet been determined, the subject cannot be arrested. Instead, they are placed under investigation.
Many people under criminal investigation will seek to hire an attorney. This is a very wise move as it can create space between the subject of the investigation and the individual conducting the investigation.
When represented, the subject of a criminal investigation cannot be contacted by the investigator unless the attorney gives the investigator consent. Just by having an attorney, the investigator knows that you are serious about defending yourself and that you will not give the investigator the ammunition he or she needs to arrest and prosecute you.
Also, a good criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate and end to the investigation or some type of non-criminal resolution. For instance, if you are under investigation for grand theft, the attorney may be able to negotiate an end to the investigation with no arrest provided the accused person repays the money. While these circumstances are somewhat rare, they are possible outcomes.
Investigations take a long time. As long as they have to. In reality, a police agency can carry on an investigation as long as the statute of limitations has not yet run on the offense.
As well, sometimes a good attorney can put up so many roadblocks, the investigator will literally give up, and the investigation sort of goes away. I love when this happens.
Worst case scenario, the investigation results in an arrest. With an attorney on board, it is more likely that the client will know, upfront, what the charges will be, and how much the bond will be. An attorney can almost always negotiate a surrender of the client. This is good because it allows the client to prepare in advance if they have to spend a night in jail. Better this scenario than having the cops kick down your door at 3 a.m. and drag you out of bed at gunpoint in front of your family.
You can be under investigation for any number of crimes. Personally speaking, the most common investigations I handle are hit and run (leaving the scene of an accident), public assistance fraud, sex crimes, and theft-related crimes. Violent crimes and domestic violence crimes can also be the subject of investigations rather than direct and immediate arrests.
If you are under investigation by a South Florida law enforcement agency, call me.