A thorough investigation is the basis of a strong criminal defense case. The most important source of information when beginning an investigation is the defendant themselves, but it is important for an attorney to consider the different types of evidence that may come into play in any given case from the outset. An attorney who has experience with Prince William County criminal defense investigations could uncover the information necessary to build a strong defense.
There may be recorded evidence for a defense attorney to analyze, such as video or phone calls. Some cases are limited to testimonial evidence in court, and other cases rely on physical evidence such as fingerprint analysis or an item that was actually involved in a case. It is important for an attorney to have an early idea of what type of evidence may come into play in a case and how they can acquire that evidence as early as possible.
In looking through a case in Prince William County, the main thing that a defense attorney will want to do is analyze what an individual is charged with, what elements of the crime must be proved, what evidence the Commonwealth has that may be available to prove those elements of the crime.
The process for each investigation in a criminal case will change on a case-by-case basis, but the starting point of any investigation, particularly in Prince William County, is to review the criminal complaint or initial allegation of criminal wrongdoing and speak with the client. In almost every criminal case, the most valuable source of information is the client. From the initial discussion with the client, the attorney will then be able to structure a thorough investigation.
The type and extent of the investigation that is performed can change drastically depending on the circumstances. Many of the typical cases in Prince William County, such as driving under the influence or shoplifting charges, will involve only professional witnesses. More complicated cases may involve physical evidence, video footage, or expert witnesses.
In Virginia, formal discovery is extremely limited. There are some states where defense attorneys are given police reports and full access to information about witnesses, but that often does not happen in Virginia.
Instead, attorneys in Virginia are required to rely on their own private resources and the use of private investigators and other firm resources to investigate criminal charges.
One helpful resource for criminal defense attorneys is police body camera footage. Prince William County has implemented body-worn cameras earlier than most of the counties in Virginia, so a number of officers in the Prince William County Police Department have body-worn cameras that are available to defense attorneys fairly early on in investigations.
Also, Prince William County has made dash camera video more readily accessible to defense attorneys, and the other departments in Prince William County are working to make the same materials available.
If you are facing charges, you may wish to contact an attorney with experience in Prince William County criminal defense investigations. A knowledgeable defense lawyer could preserve evidence, review witness footage, and work to recover as much information as possible to build an effective defense.
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