How Would I Know If I Am Being Investigated For A Crime?
If you’re dealing with a federal investigation, the U.S. Attorneys’ Handbook requires federal agencies to notify you that you are the target. Some state-prosecuted matters that are handled by the Attorney General’s office, and they will also will notify you that you are the target of an investigation. But for most criminal matters, the biggest tipoff is when the police want to talk to you; that’s not good.
Does Being A Good Person and Not Having a Prior Record Matter in a Criminal Case?
When it comes to proving the charges, it doesn’t matter; they will look at the charges and what they can prove. However, your credibility is a big factor in how cases are decided; police and prosecutors have to decide whether somebody is believable and whether a jury will believe them, so it can be a big deal.
Where it really comes into play, though, is in sentencing; there are mandatory minimums for most offenses but if you have lived a good, honest and law abiding life, you will be more likely to get the minimums than the maximums, whereas someone on their third or fourth offense and who lied to police during their investigation, do not get those breaks. It won’t help determine whether you’re guilty or innocent, but it will determine how you are treated if you are found guilty.
Should Someone Ever Cooperate with the Police and Speak to them Without a Lawyer?
You should never do that; you can absolutely request to consult a lawyer first and you can always choose not to talk to police at any time; it’s one of the most important rights we have. Chances are good that whatever police want to talk to you will be to discover information to see if you should be arrested, and they don’t have enough yet.
This is a very important concept; if they had enough to arrest you, they would; it’s what they do. So, often, when the police talk to someone, it means they don’t have enough for an arrest which, in turn, means if the person they were talking to would just keep quiet they still wouldn’t have enough they didn’t have enough to arrest them they would be out of trouble. Instead, too often they choose to talk, fill in the gaps and give the police everything they need. They fill all the gaps in the case.
Are Police Allowed to Lie to You and Vice Versa?
On a state matter, police are permitted to lie to get information from you. One of the oldest tricks in the book is they arrest your friend and tell you they just confessed and said you did it, to which you may reply that you didn’t do it, that you just drove the car, and right there, they have what they need.
However, while police can lie, you can’t because, even if you’re not criminally prosecuted for the crime, they can prosecute you for lying. For example, in a federal investigation, they never has anything to convict Olympic sprinter Marion Jones with, when it came to her use of illegal performance enhancing drugs, but they were able to prove she lied about using them and she went to federal prison for five years for nothing more than lying to police.
A second way lying to police can hurt is because everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You don’t have to speak at trial, but if you assert the right not speak, the only thing the jury may hear is that you lied, which means they’ll have a credibility issue; to believe the police, who are just doing their job, or you, who is the person who is on record lying on police reports and video surveillance?
For any crime that you are subject to incarceration of a year or more, the government is required to obtain an indictment; what that means is the case has to be presented to a grand jury, who are presented with barebones evidence that police have and vote on whether there is enough to prosecute; whether enough for a person to go to trial. It’s not a case in which you defend yourself; it is only a one-way story, the police’s way.
There was a judge in New York, Sol Wachtler, who famously said a grand jury could “indict a ham sandwich” and the bottom line is, police can say anything they want, true or disproven or not. Indictments are easy to get, all the police need is the most barebones facts to support the law.
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