Every case starts with a police investigation. Sometimes arrests are made as a result of observations of a police officer in such cases as DUI’s or other traffic offenses. In other cases, such as homicide or burglary, an investigation may progress over a period of time before any arrests are made. Arrests must be based upon probable cause– a reasonable belief on the part of the police that a crime has been committed and that the person being arrested committed the crime.
Unfortunately, many people who are under investigation believe that talking to the police to “straighten out” a misunderstanding or to present their version of the facts will resolve the issues. It is unwise to speak to the police without seeking advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer and may even have a devastating impact on your case. Many well-intentioned individuals who feel they are doing their civic duty by speaking to the police find themselves in jail at the end of the investigation.
Seeking the advice of a seasoned lawyer who can analyze your situation under the law can have an impact on a potential defense in the event that you are charged with a crime. This can be especially important in the early phases of a criminal investigation. There may be crucial decisions to be made which may affect the eventual outcome of an investigation that may not be apparent to the person who is being investigated by the police. Colette Cribari is highly skilled at negotiating with police and prosecutors and has been successful in resolving some cases without any arrest being made or charges being filed. Even if charges are eventually filed, having the services of a skilled criminal defense lawyer such as Colette will prove invaluable as the case proceeds.
Once an investigation is complete, a police officer has several options available in terms of initiating charges if he believes there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.
- Arrest Warrant An arrest warrant is a document signed by a judge ordering the arrest of the person named on the warrant. The warrant includes a sworn affidavit in which an officer states facts to show there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that a specific person committed the crime. A person can only be arrested in their home if they consent to having an officer enter their home, or if there are exigent circumstances to enter the home, or if the officer has an arrest warrant.
- Warrantless arrest If a police officer has observed a crime or believes that a crime has been recently committed and the person who committed the crime has been located in a public place, the officer can arrest that person, provided there is probable cause supporting the arrest
- Voluntary surrender Occasionally an officer or detective will allow a person who is to be arrested to voluntarily surrender at the local jail. The advantage of a voluntary surrender is that the person does not have to face the humiliation of being arrested at home in front of the family, or at a job. It also provides an opportunity to arrange for a bondsman or to obtain cash to post a bond upon arrest, thereby lessening the time that someone may sit in jail.
- Summons Police will often issue a summons to a person suspected of committing a crime instead of handcuffing and incarcerating the person. Many times the officer will “book” the person by fingerprinting and photographing the person, then providing a document which states a time and location for the person to appear in front of a judge for a formal filing of criminal charges. This is more common in felony cases than in misdemeanor or traffic charges, where the officer simply issues the summons to the person suspected of committing a crime without taking that person into custody.
Contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer early in your case can have an impact on the successful outcome of your case. At the Cribari Law Firm, we can talk to important witnesses, gather documents that may be helpful to your defense, or negotiate on your behalf with the police or prosecutors to defer charges, or to make arrangements for you to voluntarily surrender to lessen the stress and anxiety of being arrested.