While police can sometimes arrest people on the spot or immediately after a crime has been committed, such as in a situation where they have probable cause to make the arrest because they personally witness the commission of the crime, there is typically some sort of police investigation into the matter before an arrest is made. The length of such an investigation can vary greatly depending on many factors such as the availability of witnesses, DNA, and other evidence as well as the complexity of the criminal issues involved. Below, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long explain how a criminal investigation works, how long it might take, and what your rights are before and after an arrest.
How Long Will a Philadelphia Criminal Investigation Last?
This is a difficult question to answer, as the length of an investigation can vary greatly depending on the crime committed and the surrounding circumstances. The only actual time limit on an investigation is the statute of limitations for prosecuting someone for the underlying crime. If an officer has probable cause and arrests you right after the commission of the crime, any subsequent investigation will have to work backwards to produce the evidence needed to convict you of a crime. As such, officers typically prefer to conduct some sort of investigation into a case before making an arrest.
For example, in a Philadelphia DUI charge, even if the officer sees you driving erratically and smells alcohol on your breath after the stop, they will still typically conduct an investigation by asking you questions about how much you have drank and where you have been, and asking you to take roadside sobriety tests. While you are not legally obligated to take the roadside tests or answer any of the officer’s questions, you will have to submit to a Breathalyzer test as well as a blood or urine test if requested, or you will be charged with the separate crime of DUI test refusal.
While DUI investigations are usually relatively brief, investigations for other crimes might last much longer. For example, a Philadelphia homicide investigation could take many months to years if there is no clear suspect at first and if it takes time to track down leads, collect evidence, and interview potential witnesses. Investigations involving some crimes, such as robbery, can be short or long depending on the underlying circumstances. For example, if a suspect was clearly identifiable on a security video, the investigation might be short-lived. If the robber left without leaving any traces, then the investigation is likely to go on for a while, if the case is ever solved.
What Are My Rights During a Criminal Investigation in Philadelphia?
As well as varying in length, criminal investigations can vary in the way they are conducted, depending on the underlying crime, the evidence available, and other factors. Typical components of an investigation include interviewing witnesses and potential “persons of interest,” who may later evolve into suspects, collecting evidence including fingerprints and DNA evidence where applicable, and “casing” the surrounding area by asking local residents if they saw anything suspicious at or around the time the crime occurred.
If officers seek to interview you, even if they tell you that you are not a suspect, this does not mean that you cannot become one later. You should never agree to be interviewed unless you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long by your side. Even if you know that you have nothing to hide, the officers can twist your words and use them against you later. You should exercise your right to remain silent, which exists before and after an arrest, until a lawyer can be present to advise you as to what questions to answer and which to decline to answer.
The officers may also try to search your home, person, or vehicle. In most cases, a search warrant will be required for them to do so. You should never consent to a warrantless search. If the officers show up with a warrant, you should reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. We will examine the warrant to make sure it is valid and that the officers do not exceed its scope. For example, if the warrant is for a large gun, the officers cannot search in a small box where the gun would not fit. If the warrant was defective or not carried out correctly, we can file a motion in court to suppress any evidence gained as a result of the illegal search and seizure.
What Are My Rights If I Am Arrested after a Philadelphia Criminal Investigation?
Even after you are placed under arrest, you should continue to politely refuse any requests by the police to search your property. You should also exercise your right to remain silent until your lawyer is present. You have the right to an attorney to represent you for the duration of your criminal case, and you or a loved one should reach out to an experienced one like those at our firm as soon as possible after your arrest, as your bail hearing and initial appearance will occur quickly. Our skilled Philadelphia bail hearing attorneys can fight to get you released on little to no bail.
After bail has been dealt with, we will request all of the prosecutor’s evidence and file any necessary motions, such a motion to exclude evidence obtained during an illegal search. Then we can try to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor. If you do not wish to take the deal, you always have the right to a trial where you will can confront any witnesses against you and our lawyers will have a chance to cross-examine and dissect the government’s case.
If You Are Worried You Are the Subject of a Criminal Investigation, Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
Criminal investigations can vary both in length and the way they are conducted, depending on the nature and severity of the underlying crime. If you ever feel uncomfortable during an investigation, such as if the police continue to pester you for an interview, reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices if Lloyd Long. We can make sure your rights are respected and, if you are arrested, can work to get the matter resolved in the best possible manner. Call us today at (215) 302-0171 for a free consultation.