What should you do if you have reason to believe you’re being investigated for committing a crime? In Tampa Bay, Florida law enforcement officers often have many open files under consideration at any one time. How do officers determine which cases to investigate first? Criminal cases are investigated based on the severity of the crime, the nature of the crime and the time when the alleged crime occurred.
Crimes involving violence such as domestic battery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault or murder are likely to result in an immediate investigation, whereas crimes involving dishonesty such as grand theft, petty theft or fraud are likely to be investigated more leisurely. The nature of the crime and the apparent threat to the well being of the community dictate the speed of most investigations.
Clearly it’s within the very nature of some alleged crimes to attract a law enforcement investigation even as the alleged crime takes place. This is true of any crime that occurs in front of an officer such as, fleeing and eluding, DUI or driving while license suspended or revoked.
Yet no matter what the time frame is for an investigation to be initiated, the same general rules apply as to how to deal with any police investigation of alleged misconduct. Here are five basic rules in dealing with a crime investigation.
- If an officer asks questions about a crime that give the impression you’re being investigated for that crime, then the general rule is to not answer. You’re not going to simply be able to talk your way out of suspicion.
- Further, always tell the investigator that you want to speak to your lawyer before you’ll agree to talk. While waiting for the lawyer you’ll have time to collect your thoughts, to plan what you may want to say in the future when the lawyer arrives and to be certain that whatever you may decide to say is what you mean to say. But before speaking to officers, talk to your lawyer, then make an informed decision as to whether you really want to risk cooperating by obeying police commands or requests.
- Do not agree to any kind of search of your home, office, car or bags unless the investigating officer has a signed search warrant. Often officers will give you the false impression that you may be allowed to go free even if contraband or criminal evidence is found. But it’s important to remember that officers never have an obligation to be honest as to whether an arrest will be made and that most officer’s who fail to make an arrest when evidence is seized may be disciplined. Once consent is given to a search, the investigator will use that consent to search for unlawful conduct so never give police consent to search in Florida.
- Remember that Detectives are looking for clues to an alleged crime not a new best friend. It’s always beneficial to be as friendly, polite, respectful and as nonthreatening as possible, though there’s little to be gained by trying to be charming or well liked. Don’t be seduced into believing a Detective likes you enough to help you.
- It’s well known in the criminal justice system that the greatest risk to officer safety comes not during investigations of murders, robberies or burglaries, but from the simple investigations involving domestic battery cases when good people may be seen at their worst. The one thing you can control during this process is yourself. After the law enforcement officer meets you he’ll later note your demeanor in his written report make certain that your interactions with the officer are consistent with what you want to be written about you in the report.
If you believe that you’re under investigation for any crime, give me a call and I’ll do my best to help you make the best possible decisions for your future so that you can go on living and stop worrying.