Before officially arresting and charging an individual with a crime in Manassas, law enforcement and government officials conduct thorough investigations. A Manassas criminal defense lawyer has valuable insight into the entire process and how one should deal with being investigated for a crime before being arrested. If you believe you are being investigated for a crime, contact a Manassas criminal lawyer as soon as possible for a free initial consultation.
It is common for the government to conduct a pre-arrest investigation or pre-indictment investigation in many kinds of cases in Manassas. Things such as drug charges or sex offenses as well as financial crimes are all matters for which it takes some time for the government to build its case. Accordingly, they will often investigate by utilizing police and other government agencies to assist them in building their case. They will do this until the investigation reaches a level where they are ready to bring a charge, or in some cases they may decide not to bring a charge based on that investigation.
In Manassas there are a number of different individuals and departments which potentially can participate in an investigation. The first level of investigation generally is police, although this can also be detectives or specific task forces within the police department. It is also not unusual for a probation officer in certain cases or other government officials to participate in the investigation. Frequently there will also be a prosecutor who participates in an advisory role to help direct the investigation or answer law enforcement personnel’s legal questions.
Any prosecutor within the Manassas prosecutor’s office might potentially be participating in an investigation. With that said, there are specific prosecutors who are assigned to specific kinds of cases. For example, there are prosecutors in Manassas who specialize in sex crimes such as human trafficking, child abuse, child pornography, prostitution, or solicitation. These particular prosecutors will be the ones serving in an advisory capacity and in many cases will even be on scene for things like sting operations. They do this to help make sure things run smoothly and to attempt to prevent the officers from making mistakes that might be detrimental to the government’s case later.
In terms of the police, there are numerous different departments within the Prince William County Police Department. There are detectives who are assigned to particular drug cases. There are detectives who are assigned to particular sex-abuse cases. There are detectives who are assigned to financial crimes. These are the individuals who will be investigating certain types of cases.
In Manassas, the two biggest areas of focus in recent years are drug trafficking and sex crimes. One of the primary tools that they use in both cases is sting operations. In case of drug-trafficking or drug-distribution cases, they will often arrest someone who then becomes a confidential informant for the government in an effort to help themselves in their case.
Police then get their assistance in a sting operation in an effort to apprehend someone even further up the chain. It is frequently the case that when people go to make a drug purchase or a sale they may be transacting business with a confidential informant, because so many people find themselves charged with drug offenses. Similarly with sex crimes such as solicitation, prostitution, child pornography and also soliciting minors over the internet, the police set up a variety of different sting operations where they may advertise on craigslist.com or backpage.com and lure people either to a hotel or a park with the promise that some kind of illegal sexual transaction will take place. In these cases the police often pretend to be the victims in the case or the other party to the transaction.
The Manassas government will conduct a pre-arrest investigation until they believe they have sufficient evidence, or what we sometimes refer to as probable cause to bring a particular charge. Sometimes the bringing of the charge is more or less the end of the investigation because the government will have all it needs to go forward. In other cases, the government may continue to investigate throughout the trial process in an effort to discover other criminal activities committed by or participated in by the accused.
Lengths of investigations vary from case to case. In some instances, information will come out in the course of the trial process or the trial itself which may cause the government to investigate after the trial and potentially bring additional charges.
Cases can be built over a period of years. In the most serious kinds of cases, and also in certain cases where it is very difficult to secure evidence sufficient for arrest, it may take the police years to set up operations, gain the trust of individuals, and place themselves in a position where they can secure an indictment or bring warrants for the crimes. What this means for an individual’s case is that the police may be conducting pre-arrest investigations a long time and individuals may even be unknowingly interacting with police for a significant amount of time prior to charges being brought.
The primary red flag that you are being investigated for a crime or may soon find yourself investigated is that police reach out to you directly or begin asking your friends, relatives or other associates questions about you. In addition, if the police are making phone calls to your employer or to financial institutions you do business with and you are alerted to these things, it may be that there is an investigation ongoing. For more information about clues that you might be under investigation pre-arrest, contact a Manassas criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
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