How the Police Conduct a Criminal Investigation Before Arrest

If law enforcement want to “ask a few questions,” or have you “come to the police station to clear some things up,” there’s a very good chance you are the target of a criminal investigation. Criminal Investigation

Rarely do detectives, police officers, and other law enforcement share with people subject to the investigation that they’re a “suspect” or “target” of a police investigation.

They’re not required to.

When conducting interviews, they are also not required to share what they know about the case, and to the surprise of some, they are, in some instances, legally allowed to misrepresent the facts and/or flat-out lie.

Police don’t have to divulge where they are in their investigation or disclose a suspect is, in fact, a “suspect.”

Most people would immediately lawyer up if they understood what was really going on and what dangers they face in possibly being formally accused of a crime and arrested.

If a police officer is asking questions or has asked you to come by the station, even if you’re not under arrest, it’s imperative to stop talking and ask to have an attorney present.

Police are allowed to have you come to the station to “answer some questions,” fully knowing they’re going to arrest you and you will not be leaving.

After more than 30 years helping people with criminal charges in Charlotte, I am as convinced as ever that it’s better to politely decline to answer questions and immediately call us. It can make all the difference in the world – Bill Powers, Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer

Pre-Arrest Investigations – Probable Cause

It’s important to understand, police must establish probable cause that a suspect has committed a crime to make an arrest.

They can gather evidence against you without an arrest, hoping to enlist you as a witness against yourself and get a “voluntary statement.”

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Police contact need not be an overly formal process.

In many instances, they seek “voluntary contact” or conduct a “knock and talk” to avoid certain Fourth Amendment issues and the need for a search warrant.

They may be very polite and convincing in the process, prior to someone getting arrested at a later date.

Police have specialized training in investigation techniques, gathering evidence, and obtaining statements. . .and confessions.

It’s amazing how that friendly demeanor suddenly changes when someone exercises their constitutional rights. Know this: Police always want a confession if they can get it – Bill Powers, Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney

It would be a mistake to think you can fool or outthink detectives, police officers, and law enforcement.

They are well-trained, generally understand the law, and they are often quite committed to prosecuting people who they believe an individual committed the offense and broke the law.

Police also are allowed to lie in certain circumstances.

Clearly, there are many ways to establish probable cause, and investigations can vary in scope and length depending on the type of criminal activity being investigated. Pre-Arrest Criminal Investigation

And some officers are more experienced than others in conducting a criminal investigation.

Methods used by law enforcement for pre-arrest investigations include things such as:

  • Gathering Physical Evidence – Crime Scene
  • Conducting Interviews with alleged victims and witnesses
  • Obtaining a Voluntary Confession – Waiver of Miranda Statements
  • Surveillance – Cyber Surveillance
  • Review Social Media Content
  • Undercover Work
  • Working with Informants and Confidential Sources

We think anyone suspected of a crime or alleged to have broken a law should exercise their right to remain silent.

Having an attorney present, and seeking out sound legal advice, may be the first steps toward building a strong defense.

Politely decline to cooperate with the police investigation.

Do not answer questions.

Do give a statement.

Do not engage with law enforcement.

Stop talking.

Ask to speak with a lawyer.

Tell law enforcement you invoke your 5th Amendment Right to Remain Silent, ask to speak with an attorney, and further advise law enforcement you do not consent to any type of search.

Uncovering the Process Behind Pre-Arrest Investigations

A pre-arrest criminal investigation is an inquiry conducted by law enforcement officials to determine if a suspect has committed a criminal offense.  Pre-Arrest Questioning

It should be a thorough process that involves gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and victims, using surveillance techniques, and collecting social media data and other forensic evidence.

In some cases, investigators may even use undercover officers and “informants” to gather evidence.

It’s important for those who are under investigation to understand their rights.

We think having the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can be quite beneficial.

Physical Evidence Gathering

One of the steps in pre-arrest investigation often includes law enforcement officials collecting physical evidence that can tie the suspect to the alleged crime.

This could include items such as clothing, weapons, or fingerprints found at the scene of the crime or other places relevant to the case.

FALSE ACCUSATIONS – Defenses to Allegations 

Investigators may also collect DNA samples from suspects or witnesses to compare them with any DNA found at the scene.

Additionally, they may examine video footage from surveillance cameras to identify suspects or corroborate witness statements.

Interviews with Victims and Witnesses

Another key part of a pre-arrest investigation is interviewing victims and witnesses who have information about the alleged crime.

These interviews can help investigators gain insight into what happened and put together a timeline of events leading up to the incident in question.

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The interviews also give investigators an opportunity to ask questions that could lead them down new avenues of inquiry as they attempt to build their case against a suspect or suspects.

Surveillance Techniques Used

In some instances, law enforcement officials may use surveillance techniques as part of their pre-arrest investigation.

This could involve monitoring phone conversations between suspects or tracking individuals via GPS technology on their phones or vehicles.

Investigators may also follow suspects around town to observe their activities and determine if they are engaging in suspicious behavior related to their suspected activities.

Social Media Records and Data Collection

It has become very common for law enforcement to take advantage of modern technology by looking up suspects’ public social media accounts during pre-arrest investigations.

In fact, law enforcement has been known to make “friend requests” to obtain otherwise private social media content.

Domestic Violence Charges 

They will search through posts and messages for potentially incriminating information that could aid in building their case against a suspect or suspects involved in an alleged criminal activity.

Additionally, investigators may review financial records from various sources, such as banks or credit card companies, when attempting to build a strong case against someone suspected of criminal activity involving felony larceny, embezzlement, or fraud schemes.

Undercover Work by Law Enforcement Officers

In extreme cases, law enforcement officials may go so far as sending undercover officers into communities where illicit activities are taking place to gain intelligence about potential suspects involved in criminal activities such as drug trafficking or gang violence.

Such operations require extensive planning and coordination between multiple agencies but can be incredibly effective at uncovering evidence that would otherwise be impossible for investigators to obtain without putting themselves directly at risk by infiltrating dangerous organizations like gangs without being noticed by those same organizations’ members.

What is “Discovery?” 

A pre-arrest investigation is one of the most important steps taken by law enforcement personnel before making an arrest based on probable cause determined through evidence gathering during said investigation process steps mentioned above.

Assisting in a pre-arrest investigation can provide vital pieces of information necessary for law enforcement personnel when assembling enough evidence needed for an arrest warrant. You are not required to help the police prosecute you – Bill Powers, Charlotte DWI Lawyer

It is highly recommended that anyone who might find themselves involved with these types of investigations seek out legal advice from experienced criminal defense lawyers before confronting police questions alone.

Understanding how pre-arrest investigations work is essential for anyone who might find themselves caught up in one – regardless if they’re innocent or guilty – since it helps people understand what rights they have while being investigated by authorities before any arrests are made based on probable cause determined through evidence gathered during this investigative process period described above (physical evidence gathering; interviews with victims & witnesses; surveillance techniques used; social media records & data collection assessments).

We think anyone who finds themselves under suspicion should seek out legal advice from experienced criminal defense attorneys before answering any questions asked by police without legal representation present.

This will help ensure your rights are not violated throughout the entire investigative process period mentioned above (physical evidence gathering, interviews with victims & witnesses, surveillance techniques used).

By understanding exactly what goes into a successful pre-arrest investigation, you can make sure you protect yourself should you ever find yourself caught up in one – either due directly to your own actions (or lack thereof).

What is Probable Cause?

Probable Cause is essential in any arrest.

It is necessary for law enforcement to determine there’s a reasonable probability that a crime has been committed before they take somebody into custody.

Without probable cause, criminal charges may be dismissed in certain circumstances.

That’s one reason why it’s so important for officers to establish probable cause when making an arrest.

Even with probable cause, arrests still need to follow all other rules of the criminal justice system to guarantee basic rights are honored.

For example, officers are required to advise suspects of their Miranda Rights if are to conduct what is called a Custodial Interrogation.

Miranda Rights – Take the Fifth

Suspects should be aware of their 5th Amendment right to remain silent when questioned by police without legal representation present.

Everyone has the right to remain silent and not cooperate with an interrogation, questioning, or criminal investigation.

Doing so may prove to be hugely beneficial for those being questioned, as mistakes made under pressure can lead to severe consequences in such delicate situations.

How a Lawyer Can Help You During a Pre-Arrest Investigation

An experienced criminal defense attorney can be an invaluable ally if a person becomes the subject of a pre-arrest investigation.

We often conduct our own thorough investigation into the case.

Defense lawyers may also be able to help clients surrender peacefully if there is an existing Warrant for Arrest against them.

A criminal defense attorney is uniquely positioned to ensure their client’s constitutional rights are strictly enforced throughout interrogations if any.

Criminal defense attorneys understand the legal processes of a criminal investigation and your Constitutional Rights during pre-arrest investigations and can make all the difference in protecting your future.

Charlotte Criminal Lawyers – Powers Law Firm PA

We help people with a wide range of different State of North Carolina criminal charges in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Union County, Monroe, Iredell County, Mooresville, Statesville, Rowan County, Gaston County, and Lincoln County, including things like:


Our firm does not handle FEDERAL COURT criminal charges.  


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