What To Expect In A Police Investigation
A criminal investigation begins when law enforcement is notified of or witnesses an alleged crime or suspicious activity. For example, it may be someone swerving while driving, being on restricted property during strange hours, or being in a loud argument with a significant other.
None of these situations are necessarily illegal activity and average law-abiding citizens may suddenly find themselves a party to a criminal investigation. This article is intended to educate you on the typical procedure in a criminal investigation, and how you should conduct yourselves under these circumstances to avoid any harsher consequences than necessary.
Once law enforcement is aware of suspicious activity, they must begin an investigation and determine whether there is probable cause to make an arrest. An investigation can consist of interviewing victims, witness and suspects, and compiling photographs, videos, weapons, fingerprints, DNA, or any other physical evidence available.
If a law enforcement officer reads you your Miranda rights, it is a clear sign that a criminal investigation is well underway and the officer is likely trying to get you to admit to a criminal offense. Remember that you have a right to remain silent, any statement you make to the police officer may be used against you as evidence, and you have the right to the presence of an attorney. You may waive these rights if you choose to do so.
It is important to understand that not all investigations lead to an arrest. Therefore, if you choose to talk to the officer, don’t be rude or obnoxious! It may be obvious advice, but law enforcement is often called to the scene of a heated argument or otherwise deal with individuals whose emotions are running rampant. Use all the self-control you can muster to be courteous and respectful. It does not help your situation at all if the officer finds you offensive.
Witnesses often play a key role in law enforcement investigations. Law enforcement usually asks witnesses interviewed to write a sworn statement, which becomes part of the police report and is eventually placed into evidence. The State may decide to charge a suspect even if they were never interviewed by law enforcement. This often happens when a suspect is unavailable or cannot be located during an investigation.
There are other circumstances where law enforcement will not interview a suspect. For example, if law enforcement believes they already have probable cause for an arrest, they often choose not to interview a suspect. Also, if a suspect is arrested on a warrant, the officer executing the warrant will likely have no knowledge of the offense. That officer’s only involvement is to make the arrest and transport the suspect to county jail. He or she will probably not conduct an independent investigation. However, the investigator on the case will likely conduct the interview at the jail. At that time, the investigator should read the suspect his or her Miranda rights.
Our clients often ask, “Can the police arrest me without reading me my Miranda rights?” The answer is yes. The officer must read the Miranda rights to a suspect if he or she intends to use your out of court statement to prosecute. If a suspect is not read their Miranda Rights, then his or her out of court statements that were elicited by the officer’s questions are not admissible into evidence. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Suspects should be cautious when speaking to law enforcement during a criminal investigation. Invoking your right to remain silent and an attorney is usually the safest option to avoid making incriminating statements or actions.
If you have any questions about the legitimacy of a police investigation that took place against you, do not hesitate to contact St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers at Rooth Law Group for a free consultation today.