Pre-File Investigations

Pre-File Investigations in Tampa

Under Investigation? Our Tampa Attorneys Can Help.

A pre-file investigation occurs when law enforcement investigates a person for a possible 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 enough evidence, the person will likely be placed under arrest and charged with a crime. However, if law enforcement discovers not much conclusive evidence, the person will not face any legal action.

During the pre-file investigation, the person will be subject to questioning. By having a Tampa criminal defense attorney, the person can ensure their rights are protected and 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. 

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.

At Thomas & Paulk, we understand that the time before charges are formally filed is crucial in the outcome of a criminal case. By providing clients with the one-on-one service of a lawyer from our Tampa criminal defense law firm, we work to help them avoid charges in the first place. Even if charges are filed, 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.

How Do Pre-File Investigations Work?

If the police have reason to believe that you broke a state or federal law, they will investigate you. Since no formal charges have been filed, this is called a “pre-file investigation.” During the pre-file investigation phase, detectives closely examine you, your criminal background (if you have one), interview witnesses, and carefully gather 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 challenging to know if you’re the target of a pre-file investigation, but sometimes there are clues that you are being investigated. You may have had a surprise visit at your home by officers from the Tampa Police Department, you may have received a call from a detective, or your friends may have tipped you off that the police were asking questions. Unwitting suspects often have no idea that the police are busy behind the scenes trying to gather enough evidence.  Law enforcement sees a benefit in these “covert investigations” because they feel the less the suspect knows, the lower the chances of the suspect destroying evidence or going into hiding.

Learn more about pre-file investigations and how our Tampa law firm can help by reading on, or call (813) 221-4200 to talk about your case.

We're Here to Help

At any stage of a criminal case, our team at Thomas & Paulk stands ready to defend your rights. Because we have experience as former prosecutors, we have crucial knowledge of the inner workings of pre-file investigations and may be able to use this to your benefit. Take this opportunity to learn more about our firm and the ways we can help you.

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How Long Does a Pre-File Investigation Take?

It depends on the case. For example, in a large-scale drug trafficking scheme, 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 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. 

Just because someone is arrested does not mean there’s sufficient evidence. When someone is arrested, their case goes through a screening process. The DA screens the case to decide whether the evidence is strong enough to press charges and 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 it can win. If there is not enough evidence against an individual, the DA will consider the case a waste of time.

High-Profile Cases & Pre-File Investigations

With high-profile cases, the police may have probable cause to make an arrest, but they might wait until they have enough hard evidence. In essence, they are looking for a “slam dunk” case. Once the case is strong and the suspect is charged, there’s less of a flight risk.

If you're the target of a pre-file investigation in Tampa , you do not want to speak to the police. Your rights and interests must come first.

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. You have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney; exercising these rights is your best option.

Pre-file investigation? Contact our Tampa attorneys today!