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Criminal Investigation Process and Procedures in Columbus, Ohio
Once a crime occurs, law enforcement officials work through a relatively predetermined criminal process. While every case has its own facts and nuances, the journey through the criminal justice system is similar for everyone. The greatest variation comes in the order of various stages, including the crime scene investigation, evidence gathering, questioning, an arrest, and charges.
While you may expect the entire investigation to proceed in that order, the various parts of the investigation, including questioning any suspects and making arrests, can occur at various times throughout the process. For instance, you may be arrested immediately following the occurrence of a crime and questioning and the investigation takes place after your arrest. Or, the police may investigate a crime for a period of time before you are arrested and charged with an offense.
If you have any questions about criminal investigations in regard to your or a family member’s situation, do not hesitate to call the legal team of Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836. We are here to fully explain your rights during a criminal investigation, protect those rights, and help you avoid or fight criminal charges.
The Criminal Investigation Process
During the criminal process, you can expect:
- Crime Scene Investigation – Once a crime has occurred, the police must conduct an initial crime scene investigation. At this time, they will thoroughly document the area in which the crime occurred, including with photographic and video evidence. They may search for fingerprints and take samples of substances left at the scene to determine if they are drugs, bodily materials that may contain DNA, hazardous substances, or something else. The police will obtain as much evidence as they can from the crime scene to recreate what happened and gather suspects.
- Evidence Gathering – Following the crime scene investigation, the police will continue to gather evidence regarding the crime. This will occur whether or not there is an initial suspect. However, if the police immediately arrest you or another person for the crime, this can impact how the criminal investigation moves forward. Additional evidence gathering includes, but is not limited to, ordering laboratory tests performed on substances obtained at the crime scene, speaking with victims of the crime, speaking with witnesses, obtaining video footage from the scene or surrounding area, and gathering any other evidence available. Once the police have had time to review all of these elements, they typically move forward with questioning suspects.
- Questioning – You may be questioned by the police before or after your arrest. If you are questioned before an arrest, the police do not have enough information to make an arrest. They are looking for it. They police may also make an arrest based on probable cause that you were involved with a crime and then question you afterward. If the police do not obtain more information during post-arrest questioning, there may not be enough for the prosecutors to move forward with charges or obtain an indictment from a grand jury. Whether you are questioned before or after an arrest, you have the right to remain silent and to contact an attorney. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be polite to the police, yet specifically, state you will not answer any questions without your attorney present. Then, contact our criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates as soon as possible.
- Arrest – The police cannot arrest whoever they want, whenever they want. Columbus criminal procedure requires that they have probable cause to believe you were in involved with the commission of a crime or an arrest warrant, which also must be based on probable cause. You could be arrested soon after a crime is committed or after days, weeks, or months of a police investigation. You may not even be arrested until prosecutors obtain a grand jury indictment. No matter the situation that leads up to your arrest, you have a number of constitutional rights during this time. You have the right to remain silent and to know that anything you say or do can be used against you in court. You also have the right to an attorney. After your arrest, you should politely decline to answer any questions until you have an attorney present. Call Luftman, Heck & Associates right away. Our team of experienced Columbus criminal defense attorneys will work on having you released as soon as possible.
- Post-Arrest Investigation – After you are arrested, whether it is shortly after the crime took place or after a good deal of investigatory work, the police have more to do. Just because you are arrested does not mean you will be charged with a crime or that the prosecution has a strong case against you. You will be questioned after your arrest, and you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. After or during your arrest, the police may execute search warrants for your home, place of work, vehicle, and other private proper in the hopes of obtaining more evidence. They may run more lab tests, such as comparing your DNA to substances found at the scene. Also, the police will fact check any answers you give them, such as confirming your alibi for the time of the crime. The police may speak with other suspects and witnesses for the first or a subsequent time to see if their testimony supports or contradicts your own.
- Criminal Charges – The purpose of the criminal process is for the prosecution to have enough evidence that they can file misdemeanor charges against you or be confident in convening a grand jury and asking for felony charges to be brought against you. Ohio requires that a grand jury, made up of nine of your peers, hear the evidence of the case and decide whether or not there is enough evidence to move forward with charges against you. A grand jury is not the same as a trial. You would not mount a defense like you would during a criminal trial, however, you should still be represented by an experienced and skilled Columbus criminal defense attorney.
How Long Does a Grand Jury Have to Indict | LHA
Typically if the prosecutor goes to a grand jury and asks for a decision that criminal charges in Columbus should be filed again you, then that is an indictment.
Protect Your Rights During the Criminal Process
Once you learn that you are a suspect in a criminal investigation near Columbus, you need to hire an experienced and qualified Columbus criminal defense attorney. Law enforcement officers are not your friends and they are not there to protect your rights or look after your interests. They will twist your words, try to trick you into admitting facts that make you look bad, and can even lie to you during questioning. To protect yourself and avoid self-incrimination, you need to call Luftman, Heck & Associates.
You always have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney during a criminal investigation, whether or not you have been arrested. The safest and smartest thing to do is to invoke these rights. To remain silent, you must actually tell the police that you are choosing to remain silent and will not answer any questions without a lawyer present. You should not simply keep quiet because the police will continue to pester you with questions. Once you ask for a lawyer, you should call the Columbus criminal defense lawyers at Luftmen, Heck & Associates directly or reach out to a family member or friend who can contact us on your behalf.
We are here to aggressively protect your rights and ensure the police do not overstep their boundaries. Our goal will be to avoid criminal charges against you. However, if you are charged, we will discuss your options, including the strongest possible defenses to your case.
Contact the Columbus Criminal Defense Law Firm, Luftman, Heck & Associates Today
The Ohio criminal process can be frightening. You may have done nothing wrong, yet the police can make it seem like you will soon face serious criminal charges. Do not let the police intimidate you into forgetting about your rights. Contact a criminal defense attorney at Luftman, Heck & Associates as soon as you can at (614) 500-3836.