Being the subject of a criminal investigation is a serious and anxiety-inducing experience. Its outcome may determine your future. If you have been accused of a crime, you should immediately seek the help of an experienced Miami investigations lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. You need a seasoned South Florida criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf and reduce the chances that the investigation will result in criminal charges.

What Does It Mean to Be Under Criminal Investigation?

Being under criminal investigation means that law enforcement officials are looking into whether you have committed a crime. This could result from a tip, a complaint, or evidence found during an unrelated investigation. Federal agents conduct an investigation of a federal crime. State crimes are investigated by county and municipal police departments (although the State Attorneys Office also carries out investigations, public corruption being an example). Investigations can be conducted for a wide range of criminal offenses, from a white collar crimes, to violent crimes, drug offenses, and theft crimes

A white collar crime, such as embezzlement, fraud, and insider trading, is typically committed by individuals in positions of trust and responsibility, often in a business or corporate setting. These crimes are often complex and involve large amounts of money, making them a priority for police departments and other agencies. However, investigations can also be conducted for violent crimes, such as murder, assault, and robbery. In these cases, detectives or agents gather evidence and interview witnesses to determine who committed the crime. Drug offenses, such as drug trafficking, are also common targets of criminal investigations. In these cases, law enforcement agencies will work to dismantle drug trafficking organizations and arrest individuals who are involved in illegal drug activity. Property crimes, such as burglary and theft, are often the subject of criminal investigations. Investigating detectives will gather evidence and interview witnesses to determine who committed the criminal offense and recover stolen property. Police also conduct domestic violence investigations in cases where the responding officer does not make an arrest.

At the investigation stage, you are not yet charged with a crime. The investigation, however, may lead to a future criminal charge filed against you.

Differences Between State and Federal Criminal Investigations

State and federal criminal investigations differ in several key ways, including jurisdiction, the types of crimes being investigated, and the agencies responsible for the investigation. State criminal investigations are conducted primarily by local police departments and involve crimes within the state’s boundaries. Federal criminal investigations, on the other hand, are conducted by federal agencies. 

Another difference between state and federal government investigations is that grand jury investigations are required in cases where the United States Attorneys Office seeks to file felony charges in United States District Court against a defendant.

State criminal investigations are typically conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), county sheriffs, and local police departments. On the other hand, a federal government investigation is conducted by a federal agency such as the FBI, DEA, or ATF.

What You Can Expect During the Investigation Process

If you are under investigation, you can expect the following:

Questioning: Special agent or detective may want to question you about the alleged crime. It is important to remember that you have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning.

Search Warrants: Investigators may obtain a search warrant to search your property for evidence related to the alleged criminal offense.

Arrest: If enough evidence is found against you, you may be arrested and charged with a crime.

Pretrial Hearings: If the prosecutor files a criminal case against you, you will have to attend pretrial hearings. Your criminal defense attorney will be present to represent you during these hearings.

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney if You Are Under Investigation

If you are under investigation, it is crucial to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help protect your rights and ensure you do not incriminate yourself. They can be a buffer between you and law enforcement, advocate for you, and counsel you during the investigation.

Specifically, a defense lawyer can assist in the following ways:

Legal Advice: A criminal defense lawyer can provide legal advice and guidance on what to expect during the investigation process. They can explain your rights and help you understand the charges against you.

Representation: Frequently, your attorney will advise you against making any statements to detectives or agents. If officials question you, however, it is important to have an attorney present. Your attorney can ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not coerced into making a confession or incriminating statement. 

Advocating: A criminal defense attorney can be crucial in persuading the detective or prosecutor not to proceed with an arrest. They can do this by presenting evidence, information, and witnesses that support your defense and cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

Voluntary Surrender: However, even with the best efforts of a criminal defense lawyer, there may be times when the detective or prosecutor decides to proceed with an arrest. In these situations, having an attorney is even more critical. An experienced attorney can help arrange a voluntary surrender, which can be less stressful and more dignified than being arrested and taken into custody. During a voluntary surrender, you will surrender yourself to the police at a mutually agreed-upon time and place. This allows you to avoid the embarrassment and stress of being arrested publicly and demonstrate your cooperation with the authorities.

Negotiating with Prosecutors: Sometimes, it may be possible for your defense lawyer to convince the assistant state attorney or federal prosecutor that the evidence doesn’t support filing a criminal charge against you. If charges are filed against you, they can negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf. They may be able to reduce the charges against you or negotiate a plea deal that is more favorable to you.

Building a Strong Defense: If your case goes to trial, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help build a strong defense on your behalf. They can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and challenge the prosecution’s evidence.

Contact an Experience Miami Investigations Attorney

If you have been accused of a crime and are facing a criminal investigation in Miami Dade County, it is important to take the matter seriously. The investigation’s outcome can significantly impact your future, and having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side is essential. An experienced Miami investigations attorney can protect your rights, provide you with legal advice, and help build a strong defense if charges are filed against you. By taking immediate action to defend yourself, you are reducing the chances that a criminal investigation will result in criminal charges that will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation.

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