Are you a suspect?  If you are under investigation of a crime, it is crucial that you hire an attorney right away.  It is at this point that an honest, straightforward, no-nonsense consultation with your criminal defense attorney is critical so filing a criminal case against you may be prevented.

If you are a suspect to a crime, remember that you have a right to have an attorney present during all questioning.  When a person advises the police or representatives of a prosecution agency that they have an attorney, the law requires that all conversation with the client must not proceed without the knowledge and consent of his or her attorney.

This type of preventive measure taken when one is a suspect of an investigation and/or crime allows my clients to know that all contacts by the police and the prosecuting agency have to go through me.  Many of us who watch police shows think that we can only have an attorney present after we have been arrested.  If the police contact you, either in writing or telephone, and schedule an appointment for you to come in the station to “find out what happened,” you have a right to have an attorney present.

As the attorney, I become the “conduit” to all conversations and contacts with the courts and law enforcement agencies. For example, in a major fraud case, my client was contacted by the assigned detective to come in to the station. I called the Detective and indicated I have been retained as the attorney on record and that all requests should be made through my office. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using your constitutional rights against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent.

Another client was contacted by the detective to come in to the station or “he will issue an arrest warrant” for her to be brought in. She immediately contacted me to advise me of his statements.  Her appointment was on the same day. I contacted the detective and advised him that I have been retained by her and inquired as to whether there was an arrest warrant in existence.

The story changed and he stated to me that no warrant has been issued and “she must have misunderstood.”  While such tactics are not illegal per se nor am I suggesting that all police officers use such means, it is always to your best interest to have your attorney “do the talking.”  To date, my client has not been arrested, she has not spoken to the police, and no criminal complaint has been filed.

The police may tell you that you need not have an attorney present because you are not under arrest.  But keep in mind that the questions asked of you during an investigation may be sufficient to form suspicion and prove a case of probable cause for either or both a warrant for your arrest or a warrant to search your property and/or home.  As I have written before in my article addressing your MIRANDA rights, the police are trained in interviewing and interrogating suspects.

A client was alleged to have taken money/items from his employer. A detective contacted the mother at their residence and mother immediately called my office. To make a long story short, they retained me to represent them in all contacts with the Detective, the complaining witness and his attorney and we were able to settle in an amount that my client could agree to. The end result is no criminal filing, no arrest, no booking photo to haunt my client in his future endeavors. (work, schooling etc.)

I have had cases as well when the client calls me after they voluntarily went in the station to talk to the investigative officer and waived their constitutional rights, including but not limited to, right to remain silent and a right to an attorney. In those cases, there is no doubt in my mind that filing a criminal case would have been impossible without my client’s statements.

These conversations are not friendly and without purpose.  Keep in mind, when the police want to speak to you about a case, they are doing so, because you are a suspect.  As such, you are always under the “cloud of suspicion.” So do yourself a favor and call an attorney before you decide to talk. Any questions, feel free to call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me at cicastaneda@sbcglobal.net.