Criminal Investigations in Manassas
Criminal investigations can be a scary process with a lot of factors that need careful handling and serious considerations. Below, a Manassas criminal lawyer explains some basic things you need to know if you believe you are being investigated for a crime.
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State and Local Agencies Involved in Investigating Manassas Crimes
The primary agency that is involved in investigating crimes in Manassas is the Prince William County Police, however, The Town of Manassas Police also is involved in investigations. In certain types of investigations, Virginia State Police will become involved while other localities, such as Haymarket, also have their own police force and prosecutor.
Crimes Commonly Investigated Before Arrests
Crimes that tend to be investigated before an arrest include sex crimes like possession of child pornography or sexual battery, which have become increasingly common, distribution and manufacture of drugs, as well as financial crimes such as embezzlement or fraud.
Signs You May Be Under Investigation
The primary red flag that someone is being investigated for a crime is that police contact him and ask questions. In many cases, police will present their inquiries as being innocent or simply an attempt to collect information or get the individual’s side of the story. If police are talking to you, however, this almost invariably means they are trying to build a criminal case against you.
Usually, the purpose of the conversation is for the police to elicit incriminating statements or merely inconsistent statements. This is an investigative technique used to assist police in developing probable cause, which is necessary to obtain a warrant for any number of crimes so that the individual may be arrested and charged.
Possibility of Having Accounts Frozen During an Investigation
It is possible for your financial accounts to be frozen by police. This is typically permitted by an order issued by a judge. This occurs commonly when police have probable cause to believe that an account contains proceeds that are illicit or are the product of illegal activities, such as the sale of drugs, prostitution, or some other criminal acts.
In most cases, the individual will get a notice that their account is frozen, not a prior warning, along with information about how to appeal the action or have a hearing on that issue. The judge presiding over the hearing will then make a determination as to whether funds should remain frozen or whether they can be released.
Whom Authorities Speak to During Manassas Criminal Investigations
There are really no boundaries that outline with whom the police might speak with during the course of an investigation. Anyone who they believe to have information about a crime is potentially someone they will interview. This includes not only those who police believe witnessed the crime or have direct knowledge of the crime but also individuals who they believe the accused may have made statements to. If an investigated individual discusses the issue with friends, family members, or even their employer, the police may interview these individuals to find out what statements the accused has made. This is why discussions about an investigation should ONLY be had within the safety of an attorney-client relationship.
Post Arrest Investigations
Although in the vast majority of cases an investigation concludes with an arrest, there are instances where authorities will continue to investigate after an arrest has been made. This may occur where authorities make an arrest on some lesser charge in order to hold the individual and put pressure on him while they gather evidence of more serious charges.
If the police are continuing to investigate after an individual has been arrested, they might be trying to solidify the evidence that they will use in a trial. More commonly, however, they may be seeking evidence of additional or more serious crimes so that the accused can be charged with them as well.
A lawyer is invaluable in this process. Experienced counsel will assist an individual when interacting with the police, making sure that their client has the most current information about what is going on in the investigation, and advise their client as to proactively prevent additional charges from being made against him.
The most important piece of advice and assistance a lawyer can provide is in instructing and ensuring the client in remaining silent. Exercising the right to remain silent prevents the creation of any new evidence that may be later used against the individual at trial.
Can Police Access Phone Records and Internet Activity?
Police can access phone records and Internet activity, as well as physical phones, computers, laptops, and tablets if they have obtained a search warrant from a magistrate or a judge. Additionally, police can monitor certain kinds of activities online that are in the public domain. Police can use this kind of information to obtain search warrants that will give them access to more. The police are required to have a search warrant in order to access electronic devices, such as phones and computers, as well as to look at the contents of electronic devices.