Pre-Filing of Criminal Charges

Defense Attorney Advocating for Bradenton Residents

If you are being investigated by the police, you need to seek legal counsel immediately. Many people delay calling an attorney, thinking that if they explain what happened, the police will be reasonable. However, the police may contact you before formally arresting you simply to get further evidence and establish the probable cause needed for an arrest. If you are concerned about what to do during the pre-filing of criminal charges, you should contact an experienced Bradenton criminal defense lawyer. At Hanlon Law, we fight to protect the rights of the accused in cases involving drug crimes, sex crimes, or other allegations even before charges are brought.

Understanding Your Options During the Pre-filing of Criminal Charges

People often assume that if the police are asking them questions, they are not free to just walk away. However, unless you are formally detained or arrested, the police are not able to stop you from walking away. If you are stopped from walking away, there has been an arrest. The lawfulness of the arrest depends on whether there is probable cause. Under the Fourth Amendment, the police need probable cause — evidence beyond a hunch or a suspicion — to arrest you. There is probable cause to arrest you if the circumstances and facts would cause a reasonable person to think that a crime was committed or is being committed, and that you are the person who perpetrated the crime. Probable cause can include mere sensory observations and can also include any sort of observation that would trigger suspicion, based on a familiar pattern of a specific crime. For example, if numerous people come to a residence and leave with baggies, and there is an odor of marijuana, this could be probable cause that a marijuana crime has occurred. Probable cause can also be based on police expertise, circumstantial evidence, or information gotten from a witness or informant.

Even if you have not yet been arrested, this does not mean that formal charges have not been filed against you. The earlier that you hire an attorney in Bradenton, the more that they can influence the course of the investigation or the charges that are brought. Sometimes a detective may claim that you should not worry about the information that you provided to them. However, the decision about whether to file or not file charges is not the detective’s decision. Moreover, a prosecutor can charge you with a crime without letting you know that they are charging you. A court can issue a warrant for your arrest without alerting you to that fact. You could be at work or with your children and be arrested there. This can be a humiliating experience that may affect your relationships long into the future, creating a stigma even if you are not convicted. For example, if you are arrested for a theft crime like embezzlement, this could affect your boss’ confidence in you even if it turns out that there was a mistake or there is not sufficient evidence to convict you.

Your attorney can tell the prosecutor your side of the story and counter-balance any information that is being provided by the police. If you do not have an attorney involved, only the police’s version of events, however skewed, will influence the prosecutor’s decision to pursue or not pursue charges, or the specific charges to pursue. For example, there are cases in which a felony sex crime could be charged, or sexting could be charged instead. If it is not possible to secure a dismissal, your attorney may be able to push the narrative toward the charge that comes with a lighter sentence.

Sometimes public pressure over a high-profile crime can push a prosecutor to file charges before he or she is ready. However, in most cases, a prosecutor only files an information that lists the precise charges after obtaining enough evidence to secure a conviction. The information will list all of the charges that the prosecutor is levying, and these charges are what must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Your attorney may be able to influence whether an information is filed at all and how confident the prosecutor is about the charges listed. An experienced attorney may also be able to start developing a strong defense strategy, such as Stand Your Ground in the case of an aggravated battery charge or a procedural defense in a heroin trafficking case.

Retain a Knowledgeable Criminal Lawyer in the Bradenton Area

Mr. Hanlon is an experienced and aggressive trial attorney who has been defending the accused since 1994. If you are being investigated for a felony or misdemeanor, you should find out more about what we can do for you during the pre-filing of criminal charges. Call Hanlon Law at 941.462.1789 or use our online form to set up a consultation.