Being the subject of a federal criminal investigation is a troubling event. Whether you are fully innocent or realize that you did something afoul of the law, it is imperative that you understand some basic points about a federal investigation.
You need to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities. Missteps when you’re the subject of the investigation can lead to increased legal issues as your case moves through the federal criminal justice system.
Warrants, searches and arrests
If a police officer witnesses a person committing a crime or if they have probable cause to arrest a person for another reason, they can conduct the arrest. They must ensure that they are complying with the person’s rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
When they don’t see the crime being committed, the police officer needs to either get your permission to conduct a search for evidence or they need to get a search warrant from a judge who is classified as detached and neutral. There is also the chance that they will need an arrest warrant from the courts to initiate the arrest if the officer doesn’t see the crime in progress.
Types of evidence
There are two types of evidence used in criminal cases – circumstantial and direct. Circumstantial evidence is anything that isn’t first-hand proof that the person committed the crime. A witness can be circumstantial evidence if they have knowledge of something that happened related to the crime, but not the crime itself.
Direct evidence is anything that can tie the suspect to the crime. A witness who sees the crime being committed is direct evidence. Other evidence, such as a fraudulent check written out to a person and deposited into their account could be direct evidence.
Role of the prosecutor
The prosecutor will review the evidence in a case to determine how to proceed. If they want to pursue charges, they need to present the case to a grand jury. The large jury reviews the information and determines whether to hand down an indictment. However, it is possible to prosecute without the approval of the grand jury.
Throughout the case, you have the right to remain silent and to have your attorney with you when you are handling aspects of the case like being questioned. Invoking your rights can help your defense strategy, but pay close attention to the actions of the police officers and other officials you deal with because violations of your rights can also play an important role in your criminal defense.