Pre-filing means when an individual is suspected of a crime and is under police investigation but no formal charges have been filed. You are under investigation if law enforcement agencies/police contact you, your employer, family or friends to ask questions. A search warrant may have already been issued and executed. In order to prevent further invasive inquiries and protect your rights before charges are filed, an attorney should be hired.
A common misconception when it comes to criminal defense representation is that many believe that they do not need an attorney until they have been arrested or worse yet, until their arraignment. While every case is different, I always recommend that once you are a subject of any investigation, hiring an attorney is critical.
It is highly likely that foregoing legal counsel until you are charged will be detrimental and preventing an arrest or even any charges altogether should be your priority. As we all know, all the individuals being “questioned” in the Robert Mueller investigations have a cadre of attorneys insuring that in every step of an inquiry, they are “protected.”
If there is a lesson to be learned from the ongoing special counsel investigations, having an attorney guide you and speak on your behalf is a far better option. There are ways that an attorney can assist you. It is common to have law enforcement contact the person under investigation to speak to them, to search their office and/or homes, to subpoena documents from them. All such pre-filing investigations require an attorney to help you navigate whether to comply and/or invoke your constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent, self-incrimination, or unlawful search and seizure.
It is important to remember that anything you do or say while you are under investigation may be construed as evidence of your guilt. You may cooperate by allowing them to search your property without a warrant, speak to the police without an attorney present—all which could lead to criminal charges being filed against you.
You have legal rights at every stage of a criminal case, even before charges have been filed and protecting these rights could enable you to have a better chance in avoiding an arrest, criminal charges, and subsequent criminal convictions. It is not uncommon for me to say to my clients, “I wish you had called me the minute the police called you to come in to talk or before you let them in your home.” It also enlightening to many clients to know that the police do not talk to you to “get you out of a crime”—their duty is to solve the crime and if they believe you are responsible, charges will be filed.
Preparation of an effective pre-filing defense may result in charges never being, reduction of charges from a felony to misdemeanor charges or an informal diversion type agreement. I had a case a few years back when the mother of the person being accused of taking items from his employer called me since the detective wanted to talk to her son. She hired me and the owner of the store also hired an attorney along with reporting it to the police. The end result was that I was able to negotiate a restitution amount that was acceptable to his employer and subsequently accepted by the detective. The detective decided not to forward his investigation to the prosecuting agency which meant no criminal charges were filed. The future of her son’s education and employment would never be tarnished by a conviction. This is just one instance where I have represented a client in pre-filing investigations and negotiations which resulted in no criminal charges being filed.
It is to your best interest to hire an experienced and qualified attorney immediately since it is not only a short-term benefit but a decision that could greatly impact your future. Any questions, call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me at [email protected]
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