When police, prosecutors or other law enforcement officials believe or suspect a crime has taken place, they investigate. The investigation could take minutes, hours, days or years. Some investigations are undercover or involve sting operations, but, in most cases, you will know that you are the subject of an investigation. Anything you say or give to police might be used as evidence as against. It is incredibly important to be extremely cautious in this situation.
If you are the subject of a criminal investigation, it is never too early to acquire legal representation. A skilled attorney can advise you at every step of the way. Making good choices during this process could make the difference between you being put behind bars and prosecution not being pursued for want of evidence.
At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we can take on your case in Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County or Broward County, no matter what stage it is in. The earlier we can start working on your defense, the better. Our West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers will seek for charges to never be pressed, and to minimize the evidence against you.
Call us today at (561) 283-3259 to set up a free consultation. We are based in West Palm Beach and represent clients throughout the area, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Boynton Beach, Greenacres, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens, Royal Palm Beach, Juno Beach and Lake Worth.
To convict a person of a crime, prosecutors must present evidence that proves all elements of their case beyond reasonable doubt. During the investigation phase, this evidence is collected. Once prosecutors or police have sufficient evidence to show probable cause, a standard meaning that, more likely than not, the suspect committed the crime, they may seek a warrant for the suspect's arrest.
The way an investigation works will depend on the type of crime alleged. Some are very simple. For drunk driving, a West Palm Beach police officer may suspect a person of being intoxicated and ask for a breath test. This is an investigation.
Investigations typically involve talking to witnesses of the crime. They may involve scientific forensic research at the scene. It could involve reviewing papers, financial records and computer files.
Federal officials have vastly more resources than a typical Palm Beach County State Attorney, and can conduct lengthier and more expensive investigations, typically into fraud or drug trafficking.
In colonial days, the British would sometimes force people to confess to crimes they did not commit. To protect against this injustice, our nation's founders included the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which states that no one shall be "compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."
This means that you are never required to give evidence to police without a subpoena. You also may refuse to permit law enforcement officers into your home or other place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy without a search warrant. You may also refuse to answer any questions from police.
A criminal defense lawyer can advise you on what to tell or not tell officers. Giving any information must be a careful decision, and must be strategic. You don't want to say anything or give anything aware that could later be used to take away your liberty.
If you are being investigated by federal officials, the State Attorney for Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, local police or any other law enforcement agency, it's important to act quickly. In many cases, the sooner you act, the better your outcome. Call a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. today at (561) 283-3259. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to assist you.