If you believe that you may be under investigation, you should contact an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney right away. You and that attorney can confidentially discuss why you believe you may be under investigation as well as what can be done to defend your case at that point and prepare you, your loved ones, and/or your corporation for the next steps of the criminal process.
The way to deal with an ongoing investigation will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. Therefore, you should discuss it with an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled similar investigations before.
If you are looking for pre-arrest representation, it is important to look for an attorney who is comfortable representing your charges under all circumstances in your local jurisdiction. While not every attorney is comfortable handling investigatory cases, many attorneys have ample experience protecting their clients’ rights during the investigation process.
You should typically ask whether or not the attorney is comfortable with both investigation representation and ultimate representation for the crime itself if you are charged. An attorney experienced in defending both criminal cases and pre-arrest cases may be best able to assist you in this type of case.
During an investigation in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you may be served with search warrants for your home, business and/or computer. Additionally, information such as your criminal history, financial records and statements from your colleagues may be accessible to law enforcement.
You cannot really limit the government’s access to existing information about you as long as it is lawfully obtained. To some extent, you can limit information that is publicly available by removing yourself from the public arena. For example, you can limit your postings and other personal details online. However, you simply will not have control over whether the government gets certain information, such as what they might find as a result of a validly executed search warrant.
An attorney can help you even if you are not sure whether you are being investigated by giving you peace of mind and helping you understand the legal system. Furthermore, if you have questions about whether or not certain activities are in violation of the law, an experienced criminal defense attorney can explain the law, how to get on the right side of the law, and what kinds of questionable activities should be avoided.
Therefore, if you have any reason at all to suspect that you may be under criminal investigation, you should contact an attorney right away. At a minimum, an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands legal investigations can help you understand what the investigation is, tell you what to look for, and possibly give you peace of mind if you are worried about how a criminal investigation may affect you.
You lose nothing by speaking to an attorney. A consultation with an attorney about a pre-arrest investigation is generally free, and even if it turns out that you have nothing to worry about, at least you have gained that peace of mind. You may even learn something about the justice system. Speaking to an attorney comes with no risk; any discussion with an attorney—even a consultation—is protected by limited attorney-client privilege and is confidential.
If you are charged with a crime in Virginia, the biggest mistakes to avoid are:
You should never talk to law enforcement about facts regarding your charge or try to tell them your side of the story without your lawyer there to help you. Although you may be compelled to proclaim your innocence and tell officers what really happened, you may in fact be assisting your own prosecution by speaking without an experienced criminal defense attorney present.
Also, representing yourself in criminal defense matters is generally a mistake. Even though you have the constitutional right to represent yourself, it is never a wise decision to do so. Even experienced attorneys who find themselves charged with criminal offenses hire other attorneys to represent them. It is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly.
Finally, it’s important to take your case seriously in general. That means putting in the time and effort necessary to prepare and coordinate a proper defense.
If you are charged with a crime in Virginia, you should follow these basic guidelines:
Talk to an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Do not talk to anyone except your attorney about the facts and circumstances of your case.
Be upfront and honest with your attorney and provide full disclosure so that he or she can most effectively assist you in your case.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law