Signs That You Might Be Under Criminal Investigation In Florida, And What You Can Do In Response
Law enforcement officers use a variety of methods to obtain information on a suspect before presenting criminal charges to a prosecutor’s office. These methods can include what is known as a “pre-file investigation”. Through this investigation, officers collect evidence, including physical evidence and witness statements, to build a potential case that can be referred to prosecutors for specific charges. Signals that an investigation might be taking place include:
- You have been contacted or interviewed by law enforcement. This is the most obvious sign of a potential criminal charge against you. It is important to remember that your Miranda rights under the Fifth Amendment (the well-known “right to remain silent”) are only triggered when a person is in a “custodial interrogation”. This means that the person being questioned is under arrest or their “freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way.” Fifth Amendment rights under the Constitution also apply to situations where police use other (even non-verbal) tactics during questioning to obtain responses that incriminate a suspect. Law enforcement officers can often circumvent these requirements by conducting informal interviews with subjects of an investigation, making it clear that they “just want to talk” and are not putting the person under interrogation. Regardless of the circumstances, these conversations are a tip-off that a criminal charge might be forthcoming, and you should retain a lawyer as soon as possible.
- You notice law enforcement vehicles around your home or workplace. Clearly, there can be many harmless or coincidental explanations for this. They may be near your work or neighborhood for some other reason entirely. But if you think that they may be looking into something you were involved with, you want to play it safe and prepare yourself accordingly.
- Your friends, relatives, or co-workers have been contacted by law enforcement. If someone you know tells you that they were contacted by anybody at a law enforcement agency with a question about you, there may be something underway that you need to learn more about, or at least prepare for. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can go through any concerns you might have at this point.
- You receive new social media friend requests from people you don’t know, or potentially fake profiles. Granted, this happens often and usually without any connection to something you should be worried about. Fake profiles may be associated with run-of-the-mill scams or Internet pranksters. Often, however, police officers or those working with an agency might create a profile to “befriend” a suspect, then use that connection to gain more information about a person. Even if your profile is set to “private”, that doesn’t mean the information you post can’t be used against you. Anybody on your friends list can view and access your posts. In a criminal investigation, social media posts can be used to track where you were on certain days, or who you were with. Be careful about who you add as a friend – especially if you have reason to believe they may be seeking information on you.
- You know you have done something that could invite a police investigation. Sometimes, the simplest answer makes the most sense. If you have done something questionable that may have run afoul of the law, you have good reason to believe you may be under investigation – whether you have been informed or not. Whether you are aware of an investigation or simply have your own suspicions, it is never a bad time to meet with an attorney to discuss what your legal rights and options are.
What Should You Do If You Think You Are Being Investigated?
The first thing you should do is contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss what you think is happening, and why you think it might be happening. At Joshi Law Firm, PA in Orlando, Florida, we have years of experience working with people in your situation at all stages of a criminal case – including the investigative stages before any charges are filed. We can go through your options and tell you what you should do to protect your legal rights while complying with a potential investigation.
What you should not do is try to come up with your own strategy, destroy potential evidence, or lie to those working with law enforcement. These tactics can backfire tremendously, and even lead to obstruction of justice files being added on to whatever you might have faced to begin with.
The Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA Can Help If You Think You Are Under Investigation
If you believe a criminal investigation is underway that could result in a charge against you, there is a fine line to walk with law enforcement. A person should be courteous and compliant without sharing details they are not required to under the Fifth Amendment. You should also remember that you have a Sixth Amendment right to counsel in criminal cases, and we can help even before a charge is filed and an arraignment takes place. Don’t hesitate to contact our Orlando criminal lawyers at Joshi Law Firm as soon as possible to talk about your situation and the strategies that may be available to you.