Many criminal offenses really cannot be proven against a person without corroboration of some fact from the person being investigated - this person becomes the defendant once a criminal prosecution is underway. This is especially true of many crimes involving computers, the internet, and cell phones. Pre-charge, pre-indictment, investigation stage legal representation can be very necessary for individuals under the lens of a detective or police officer.
If a police officer or detective contacts you, it may be your wisest course of action to consult with a Criminal Justice Attorney. Here are a few reasons why:
- Messages sent from a person's Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account that are the subject of a criminal complaint - computer harassment, threats in writing, solicitation, etc. - must be associated with a person. The government does not prove who sent those messages by proving whose account those messages came from. Admitting ownership and control of the account can be nearly as damning as a confession.
- Identification is an element that must be proven in every case. Speaking with the police about a crime and asserting your innocence may mean the police did not obtain a confession, but through your statement they may have found you - the person they believe is the perpetrator.
- Coming to the station - once you are in the presence of law enforcement, they may attempt, for example, to call a cell phone number they believe is connected to criminality. If the phone in your pocket rings, you have just added to their case potentially against you. As innocuous as coming to the station may seem, be aware there could be consequences.
- Inconsequential statements...There are none when a person is the subject of a criminal probe. Without knowing it until it is too late you could disclose a minor fact or detail, but one that only the perpetrator could have known. If the government can prove that you knew something that only the perpetrator of a crime could have known, or was even likely to have known, the tide could turn against you very quickly.
Privileges exist in which certain persons, based on their relationship with an accused (defendant), cannot be compelled to testify against the accused at trial. But there are instances when the privilege is waived, or deemed not to exist. Making statements to a confidant may be harmful if you are under criminal investigation - even if that person is a spouse.
Not every criminal investigation leads to a criminal charge. Not every detective or police officer believes that what they are investigating is actually criminal - after all, that is the point of the investigation. But a straight road can turn dangerously windy very quickly.
You may be legally or even factually innocent of an act being investigated - you could still do harm by unwittingly supplying evidence against yourself. And as the saying goes, just as you cannot unring a bell you cannot undo any damage you cause to yourself by meeting with law enforcement when you are the target of their probe. Knowing whether you are a fact witness or a target can be a blurry place.
Remember, you do not have to speak with law enforcement (or anyone, unless compelled to do so before a Grand Jury), but if you do speak to them...do not lie. It only makes matters worse. Before meeting with the police, even if you know you are innocent, give serious consideration to meeting with a Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer.
If you find your self under criminal investigation or believe you may be the subject of such an investigation, contact George Freeman today. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Freeman has participated in countless criminal investigations and can advise you on a course of action that is best for you.