If you are being criminally investigated, you may be feeling confused and perhaps nervous as to what steps you should take in response to such investigation. When under investigation, it is important that you take the proper steps to ensure that you avoid damaging your defense later on, should there be an eventual criminal prosecution.
Avoid Speaking With Law Enforcement
It is generally a bad idea to speak with law enforcement if you are being investigated for criminal activity. Even without having provided a Miranda warning – “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” – many of your statements, whether voluntary or involuntary, can be used against you in a court of law.
For example, suppose that an officer arrives at the scene of a car accident. The officer begins to ask you questions without giving you a Miranda warning. A few of the questions may seem simple enough: what is the model of your car, where were you driving to, etc. Then, the officer might ask you whether you were drinking alcohol earlier, or if you’d taken stimulants at any point in the evening. In this manner, law enforcement officers sometimes extract information for their criminal investigation without the defendant being fully aware of their right to remain silent.
To put it simply: you have a right to remain silent regardless of whether you have had a Miranda warning issued to you.
In Florida, Miranda warnings need only be issued after an arrest. If – after arrest – Miranda warnings are not given and further interrogation in police custody reveals material, testimonial evidence, then such evidence may be excluded from the criminal prosecution.
If you suspect that you are being criminally investigated (at the scene of the crime or otherwise), invoke your right to have an attorney present, contact your attorney, and remain silent until your attorney shows up. Be aware that the police may arrest you at this time if they have probable cause to do so.
Do Not Engage With Media
Though your statements to the media may not directly affect your case, they can have a significant and deleterious effect on the success of your defense. A media-spun narrative that gains enough traction can affect your jury and hurt your overall reputation. With excessive media exposure, you could suffer from the negative reputational effect of the criminal investigation even after charges have been dropped.
Media includes amateur outlets for content such as social media. These days, viral social media stories garner a great deal of exposure and may even get picked up by traditional media. It’s therefore critical that you avoid all exposure until the criminal investigation is complete.
Find a Skilled Defense Attorney
Navigating a criminal investigation – and the eventual defense against criminal prosecution – is no simple matter. The road is fraught with perils that could derail the success of your defense. It is absolutely critical that you hire a criminal defense attorney with experience, integrity, and a history of success. Your attorney should be an aggressive advocate for your rights. When law enforcement officers attempt to overstep their powers, your attorney must be ready to counter.
Once you hire an attorney, be honest about the facts with your attorney – even if you are guilty (in Florida, an attorney is still permitted to represent a guilty defendant that they know is guilty). It is the job of the prosecutors are required to prove that you are guilty. Your attorney will need to know everything in order to present the best defense.
If you believe that you are or may be under criminal investigation, call (941) 900-3100 as soon as possible to speak with experienced Bradenton criminal defense attorneys at the Fowler Law Group today.