Every criminal case starts with one form or another of police investigation. It may be as simple as what a police officer has observed culminating in issuance of a speeding ticker, or as complex as a large scale long-term homicide investigation. A simple investgation may be of such short duration that there is no opportunity for one to seek legal advice, event though that would be helpful. Many pending investiations allow alert individuals the opportunity to benefit frpm legal counsel before unwise decisions become irreversible.
Individuals usually seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney once they know they are facing criminal accusation, where an arrest is imminent or after criminal charges are filed. However, there are many instances when one is aware that an investigation is pending although no such formal action has yet occurred. The police may have sought to question, or otherwise to gain information from the person under investigation. It is a convenient belief to think that unqualified and unconditional cooperation with the police will “clear up this misunderstanding.” Unfortunately, the hope of such a simple resolution can prove to be naïve, and may become extremely damaging.
There are critical choices and crucial crossroads during this phase, although they may not be apparent to the person under investigation.
It is simply unwise, whether based on a sense of trusting in the right outcome, or driven by anxiety and fear, among many potential factors, to put one’s fate in the hands of law enforcement officials, working towards an arrest, without having the protections offered by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Involving an experienced criminal defense attorney at this stage does not necessarily mean that the police will be “stonewalled” by the defense. In most instances of pre-charging representation, Alexander Garlin has seek to promptly establish lines of communication with the primary investigating officer, and, when appropriate, also with the prosecutor’s office. They work to obtain all available information concerning nature and status of the investigation. They first thoroughly discuss the circumstances with the client, then call the officer or detective in order to learn what evidence may have been gathered learn the law enforcement view of the matter. They gather all available official documents and reports, and may initiate an independent private investigation, along with other measures to protect their client’s legal interests. This information gathering culminates in an analysis of the case and assessment of what, if any, information should be provided to law enforcement, and what other things to do, in an effort to avoid a filing of criminal charges. If avoiding the filing of charges is not possible, and an arrest will occur, an agreement can usually be made for surrender at a future date, thereby allowing arrangements in advance to minimize the time in jail while awaiting bond setting. Experience has shown that in most cases, establishing a line of communication between police and defense attorney, while not permitting communication directly between the police and their suspect, greatly reduces the potential for ugly surprises, and allows for gaining early control that may favorably shape the ultimate outcome of the investigation, even should charges be filed.
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