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Pre-File Investigations in Tampa, FL

Under Investigation? Our Attorneys Can Help.

A pre-file investigation occurs when law enforcement contacts a person and then investigates that person for possibly committing a crime. Pre-file investigations occur before criminal charges are filed and allow law enforcement to determine if there is sufficient evidence against the person to file charges. If law enforcement finds that there is enough evidence, it is very likely that the person will be placed under arrest and charged with a crime. However, if law enforcement discovers that there is not much conclusive evidence, the person will not face any legal action.

During the pre-file investigation, the person will be subject to questioning, which can be extremely intrusive. By having a criminal defense attorney on their side, the person can ensure that their rights are protected and that they are kept aware of their legal options. Additionally, if a criminal lawyer gets involved before charges are pressed, there is a greater chance that the lawyer can negotiate with law enforcement and challenge possible evidence.

Once a person learns they are subject to a pre-file investigation, it is usually to their benefit to contact a skilled attorney. Call (813) 321-7323 today!

How Do Pre-File Investigations Work?

If the police have reason to believe that you broke a state or federal law, they will put manpower and resources toward investigating you. Since no formal charges have been filed, this is called a “pre-file investigation.”

During the pre-file investigation phase, detectives are closely examining you, your criminal background (if you have one), interviewing witnesses, and carefully gathering evidence (if any). Once law enforcement has exhausted their research, the District Attorney (DA) will decide if there is enough evidence to press charges against you.

Are You Currently Being Investigated?

It can be difficult to know for sure if you’re the target of a pre-file investigation, but sometimes there are enough clues to safely assume that you are being investigated. You may have had a surprise visit at your home by detectives from the Tampa Police Department, or you may have received a call from a detective.

Or, your friends or co-workers may have tipped you off that the police were asking questions about you, but more often than not, unwitting suspects have no idea that the police are busy behind the scenes trying to gather enough evidence to make a lawful arrest.

Law enforcement sees a benefit in these “covert investigations” because they feel that the less the suspect knows, the lower the chances of the suspect destroying evidence or going into hiding.

How Long Does a Pre-file Investigation Take?

It depends on the case. For example, in a large-scale drug trafficking scheme or in the case of white collar crime scandal, the investigation can take months.

Pre-file investigations can occur before or after a suspect’s arrest. In some situations, the police will suspect a person of breaking the law, but they just don’t have enough evidence to arrest the person. In this type of scenario, the police would conduct a pre-file investigation to see if they can turn up enough evidence to make an arrest. If the detectives are successful, they’ll arrest the suspect.

Other times, the arrest is only the beginning of what launches into a full-blown pre-file investigation. However, just because someone is arrested this does not mean that there’s sufficient evidence for the DA to file charges.

When someone is arrested, what happens next is their case goes through a screening process: the DA screens the case to decide whether the evidence is strong enough to press charges and hopefully secure a conviction.

The State Attorney’s Office is swamped and has limited resources; thus, it does not press charges against people unless it believes that it can win. If there is not enough evidence against an individual, the DA will consider the case a waste of time and tax dollars if it moves forward. In effect, the state will NOT file charges against the suspect.

With high profile cases, the police may have probable cause to make an arrest, but they’ll decide to wait it out until they have enough hard evidence to file charges. In essence, the police are looking for a “slam dunk” case. Since the case is strong and the suspect is formally charged, there’s less chance of them fleeing Florida.

Your Right Against Self-Incrimination

If you are the target of a pre-file investigation, you do not want to speak to the police. Instead, you want to invoke your fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. Even if you are eager to tell your side of the story, speaking to the police can be the nail in your coffin.

If the police show up on your doorstep, don’t answer any questions, and if they ask if they can search your home, politely refuse in the absence of a search warrant. Next, immediately contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney at Thomas & Paulk, P.A.!

Taking Preemptive Action

Especially with white collar crimes, such as embezzlement or securities fraud, federal agencies will often make it clear that you are the subject of an investigation. These tactics are usually to scare evidence right into their own hands, but you should take it as an advantage that you know ahead of time to put an attorney on your side.

Now is the time to counteract their investigation.

Thomas & Paulk understands that the time before charges are formally filed is crucial in the outcome of a person's criminal case.

By providing our clients with the one-on-one service of a lawyer from our firm, we work to help clients avoid having charges filed in the first place. Even if charges are filed at some point, our involvement will still have worked to our client's benefit, as we will be familiar with the case and ready to defend their rights.

Take the First Step Today

Call us today at (813) 321-7323 to learn more!

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