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Updated by James A. Fowler Jr. on Nov 15, 2017
Headline for Steps to Take When You’re Under Criminal Investigation
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Steps to Take When You’re Under Criminal Investigation

If you’re under criminal investigation, there are certain steps you should take to minimize your footprint and potentially damaging conduct. Read on to learn more.


Remain Silent: It’s Your Right

If you’re being investigated by law enforcement officers, you have the right to remain silent. It is a good idea to wait until your attorney is present before engaging further with law enforcement officers. Depending on the situation, a Miranda warning may be issued to you by the law enforcement officer — specifically, Florida law requires law enforcement officers to issue a Miranda warning only after they have arrested the individual in question.

During a criminal investigation, a Miranda warning will generally not be issued until and unless you have been arrested. After you’ve been arrested, if a Miranda warning was not issued and you revealed sensitive information that could affect your case, then that evidence could be excluded from subsequent criminal litigation.


Avoid Media

In your community, media statements can have a significant and negative influence on your defense (and on your life, generally!). Even if the State decides not to prosecute you or bring charges against you, media sensationalism can seriously damage your reputation. If a case is brought against you, then the jury might be influenced by media that they’ve read about you. As such, it’s best to avoid media during the criminal investigation period.


Consult With a Criminal Defense Attorney Early

Consulting with a skilled criminal defense attorney early in the process is critical to putting up a successful defense. From the get-go, your attorney will help guide you through difficult matters (such as police interrogation), and will stop others from trampling on your rights.

If you have found yourself in a situation where you’re being criminally investigated and could potentially face charges, it’s important that you consult with a qualified Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Your attorney will help you navigate the muddy waters of an investigation and will ensure that you are not doing or saying anything that could hurt your case.


Do Not Obstruct the Investigation

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to avoid any possible interference with the criminal investigation — whether intentional or unintentional — once the investigation has begun. For example, suppose that you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident and have been charged with a DUI. Your car was seriously damaged during the accident, so you decide to junk it. Though you may not have intended to, you may have obstructed the investigation by junking the car. This could not only hurt your defense in the DUI case, but could also open you up to additional liability.


Do Not Engage With the Victim

If the criminal investigation involves a situation where there was a victim (i.e., an assault and battery case), it’s important not to contact or engage with the victim, as communications with the victim might be perceived as intimidation or coercion to get the victim to avoid testifying against you, or to avoid pressing charges altogether.

The State does not require the victim’s permission to press charges against you. Even if the victim does not wish to press charges against you, the State may choose to do so. Still, when a victim files a waiver of prosecution, this can have beneficial effects for your defense. An executed waiver of prosecution asserts that the official reports of the criminal incident are inaccurate, and can undermine the State’s prosecutorial efforts.