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Published On: Thu, Jul 11th, 2019

What to Do if You’re Being Investigated for a Crime

Most people have watched enough crime shows on TV to know that law enforcement has some creative ways of investigating suspects. But if you’ve never been the center of a criminal investigation, you probably don’t know what to do. 

Are You Under Investigation?

No two police investigations look the same, but law enforcement officers and investigators are trained in standardized methodologies. As a result, they often use the same techniques and approaches with suspects and persons of interest. 

While some investigations will begin with undercover surveillance or secretive observation, this isn’t common practice. For the most part, detectives prefer to meet with persons of interest and engage in face-to-face questioning. The reason is simple: People tend to talk too much and incriminate themselves. 

If you’re under investigation for a crime, you’ll likely be approached by an investigator and asked pointed questions. You may even be asked to come into police headquarters for a series of questioning in an interrogation room. (Investigators prefer this method because they already have cameras set up to record evidence.) 

Crime Scene Tape photo/edited pic from FBI.gov

3 Tips to Protect Yourself

If you’re under investigation for a crime, it’s imperative that you develop a proactive plan to protect yourself and avoid giving law enforcement anything they can use to build a case against you. Here are some suggestions on how to proceed:

 

  • Hire a Lawyer

 

If you are being investigated or a loved one has been arrested, it is crucial that you speak with a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible,” Scott M. Brown & Associates advises.

While there’s a saying in the law enforcement community that innocent people don’t hire lawyers, nothing could be further from the truth. Innocent people do hire lawyers when they think they’re being pinned for something they didn’t do. They know that investigators have a way of pressuring people into saying things and that an attorney is the best line of defense against loose lips. 

You are not required to speak to police – ever. While it can be helpful to answer questions and clear up any confusion, it’s wise to do so with an attorney present. Kindly let law enforcement know that you’d like to consult with your lawyer.

 

  • Remain Calm

 

Whether you’re guilty, innocent, or know more than you should about a crime, it’s important that you don’t jump to conclusions when law enforcement comes sniffing around. Investigators have a job to do; you can’t take their interest in you as a personal attack on your character. If you do, you’ll end up burning bridges and creating more suspicion.

It’s easy to say from the outside looking in, but you need to remain calm. Getting worked up doesn’t do anyone any good. Try to maintain an objective perspective and remember that the American criminal justice system has safeguards in place to protect your innocence until proven guilty. If you are innocent, you’ll have plenty of time to build a defense. Until you’re officially charged with anything, you’re best option is to follow your lawyer’s guidance and stay out of the spotlight.

 

  • Gather Information

 

If you think that investigators are serious about building up a case against you, it’s smart to gather your own evidence and information. Whether it’s a list of witnesses to corroborate your alibi, photographs of evidence, or information that points to another suspect, the more ammunition you have, the better.

Keep Living Your Life

The trouble with criminal investigations is that they can take weeks, months, and even years to fully develop. It’s not like what you see on an episode of Law and Order. There are people who live under the shadow of a criminal investigation for decades. If you aren’t careful, an investigation like this could ruin your life.

The best piece of advice is to continue living your life as normally as possible. Pursue a career, build relationships, have hobbies, take vacations, etc. While you’ll have to be smart about what you say and do, you shouldn’t let your life be dictated by someone else. Go on and live your life to the fullest!

Author: Anna Johansson

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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