Complex criminal cases usually start as investigations: a law enforcement agency (such as the FBI, NYPD detectives or the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) starts looking at a “subject” or “target” after getting a lead. Investigative techniques include —
- wiretaps to listen in on telephones
- subpoenas to obtain electronic records such as location information from mobile phones
- physical surveillance such as “pole cams” photographing who comes and goes to a location
- interviews with witnesses such as “confidential informants” who have a strong inventive to provide information to avoid being prosecuted themselves, and
- searches and seizures of evidence.
People frequently learn they are under investigation when a search is executed — i.e. when police or federal agents raid their home or office. It is very important not to make statements to law enforcement during a search or after an arrest. Such statements nearly always make it more difficult to defend the case later. Instead, if you are asked questions by law enforcement, you should firmly state that you do not want to give a statement or consent to anything without speaking to your lawyer first.
Investigations can also come to light when a person or a company receives a subpoena or is contacted for an interview. If you are involved in an investigation, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to advise you how to proceed. A criminal lawyer can guide you through the process. Companies will frequently pay for lawyers for their executives or other employees who are contacts. No matter what the police or federal investigators might tell you, you are better off having a lawyer represent you as early as possible in the investigative process.