Criminal Investigations: How They Begin and What To Do. A Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective.
Our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys regularly meet with clients who have just been notified, called or are concerned about a pending or potential criminal investigation. Generally, our retention slows down the process. Upon retention, our process generally includes immediately vetting our client, and ensuring we notify, intervene or end communication between officers and our client until we know more and/or advise our clients on what to say or do should an officer approach or arrest them. We educate our clients on relevant issues, advise our clients on their 5th amendment right to remain silent, on their right to counsel, we advise and direct clients to professionals and evaluators if appropriate or useful, make sure your Washington State Identification has an up to date address, collect witness lists, connect clients with responsible bail bondsmen in advance, check the criminal system to make sure paperwork is not missing, give advice on evidence and arrange for police interviews in our office if appropriate.
Our office has a lot of experience helping our clients avoid charges or preparing for them. We firmly believe that every situation does not require you to remain silent and wait, however, deciding your next move should include the advice, counsel and direction of a firm who makes the effort to best serve your needs and has experience managing the defense perspective on investigations of serious crimes.
Investigation? But they just asked to talk with me.
Many cases start with an unthreatening phone call | message from an investigating officer or State or Federal employee asking to arrange a time to talk, or striking up a conversation on the phone. Whether you spoke or agreed to a meeting or anything, you still have the time, and more importantly, the right to meet with a criminal defense lawyer | attorney in our office BEFORE you participate in any criminal investigations. Why? First, your participation in any meeting or discussion is voluntary, second we have never had an officer say, “Oh, they hired a lawyer, they must be guilty” (hiring a lawyer is not an admission of guilt) and, third there is no such thing as a nice phone call from an investigator | officer. A police officer or an investigator’s job is not to be nice, it is to do whatever will help them collect the most facts and evidence; being nice is often just the best first approach. If you are getting a call, it may sound friendly, but that is only because sounding friendly increases the chances you will give a statement. If you do not believe us, ask a friend or acquaintance who is a police officer. They will tell you it is part of their training. Playing “Good cop, bad cop” is an expression for a reason: there is a lot of psychology surrounding “questioning” and unless you know it, you will fall prey to it. As defense lawyers who interview police officers, we know the tricks; we also use them.
Over the course of our legal careers, we have called back 100s of investigating officers and have yet to have an officer be surprised or assume our client is somehow guilty because an experienced criminal defense attorney | lawyer calls them. Officers, like any other experienced professional in the “criminal arena”, know the real truth about giving statements. It is one thing to decide to give a statement, it is another thing all together to give a statement before ever checking with someone who is trained to be critical of your story and situation, someone who asks you the hard questions and is knowledgeable and experienced in the investigative processes, in the components of crimes and in the stages of investigation. Investigations can lead to charges and only a fool would walk in unprepared. Officers know this. They hire lawyers too.
An Investigation: Are you Safe or is it the Tip of an Iceberg? The Problem is Who Knows.
If we haven’t convinced you to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney | lawyer before making any decisions, we will leave you with this. A criminal investigation can include more than one statement, can include witnesses you do not know about, recordings you didn’t know about, evidence you didn’t know about, misunderstandings or the bias of the investigator you don’t know about, facts you don’t remember or considered relevant till after you are told something else (“O wait, now I remember …”), that are all collected by a person who may or may not be good at their job. Once you tell an officer your side of the story, you cannot take it back; you cannot change your mind, or later say you forgot something. Why not? Once a statement is given, changing your statement lends itself to the natural assumption that you are lying. In addition, if an officer writes down or misunderstands you, you cannot go back later and say the officer is wrong as you will run right into the classic conundrum of sworn officer statements: “Why would an officer lie? We know why defendants do.” Cases are won and lost all the time based on this assumption, as it is powerful and fundamental. It is rebuttable in unique circumstances; but, in general, the odds are not good. Do not be a statistic …
The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled an enormous number of complicated cases in the criminal arena over the course of our lengthy criminal law careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge. skills and temperament. Our lawyers know criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police reports claim and our clients hire us because they want staunch and effective counsel who takes the time to make sure their rights are protected. Whether our role is as legal counsel, negotiator, or litigator, we have years of experience fighting and resolving cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.