There is no doubt that people may sometimes assume that they won’t be arrested unless a warrant is presented to them by a police officer. On the contrary, that is not the case. Instances may occur where an officer can arrest you when there is probable cause, suspicion, or evidence beyond hunch to arrest.
When that happens, you can undergo several processes before the prosecutors formally file criminal charges. In case you are unfamiliar with what typically occurs during the pre-filing, read on to learn more.
What Happens During the Pre-Filing of Criminal Charges?
As mentioned above, there may be no need for police officers to present a warrant to arrest you, given that they have probable cause for doing it. Such causes arise when some circumstances and facts would lead a reasonable individual to think that you perpetrated or are attempting to perpetrate a crime.
In addition, probable causes can exist through sensory observations, police expertise, information gathered from an informant or witness, or circumstantial evidence. For instance, if people pass by your house and there are distinct signs and tracks of blood on the ground, they can have probable cause to presume that there was a crime committed.
Once a police officer contacts you to obtain information, you may assume that you can handle every question independently. You may also believe you do not need a lawyer because they have not arrested you yet. However, that thinking only works in certain situations, and you should consider contracting legal services.
A criminal defense lawyer can help persuade the prosecution council not to file charges against you. They can also positively influence the case by pointing out holes in the prosecutors’ investigation and taking advantage of the parts they failed to consider.
In these situations, it is best not to trust the police officers questioning you. They can trick you by talking to you casually, but they will provide the information you say to the prosecution. They might also purposely fail to not remind you of your right to remain silent before the proper interrogation when you are in custody.
So, if you feel they are interrogating you while invoking your right to remain silent, you must ask a criminal defense lawyer to handle the case. They will also assist you in managing the pre-filing investigation to solve your situation.
Is There a Need For a Pre-Filing Investigation?
While police officers can arrest you before the formal filing of criminal charges, there must also be an opportunity for defendants to conduct a pre-filing investigation. This type of investigation refers to when a criminal defense attorney investigates the allegation of a crime accused to his client before the charges get filed.
During this investigation, a criminal defense law firm or attorney may do the following things:
- Conduct a thorough interview with the witnesses with whom the police officers had conversations;
- Look for new witnesses to ask questions;
- Find and collect evidence to support arguments;
- Search and examine background records;
- Gather information about the accuser to recheck whether or not he is credible; and
- Consult with other attorneys and experts.
After your criminal defense attorney completes the investigation, the hope is that he was able to gather sufficient evidence to prove that you did not commit a criminal offense or that the allegations against you are false. Following that, he will meet the district attorney to present the collected evidence and discuss the crucial merits of your case.
The district attorney may then decide whether to file criminal charges against the accused, end the investigation and not file charges, or request the police officers to further investigate and return the case to him.
How Long Does it Take to File Criminal Charges?
Pre-filing in Florida can become strict when it comes to time. For example, FL. R. Crim. P. 3.134 expresses that the state must file criminal charges against accused individuals for misdemeanors within 30 days of arrest. If these defendants remain uncharged after that period, they can become automatically released on their cognizance.
On the other hand, in Jacksonville, Florida, police officers only have five days to file a specific case with the prosecution council in the State Attorney’s Office. The prosecutors will then create a final decision within 21 days.
After that, the prosecutor can file the charges the accused got arrested for, either higher, lower, more, fewer, or drop them entirely. It can be decided according to the evidence, mitigation, or other information gathered throughout the pre-filing investigation.
Nevertheless, once the council establishes the final decision, it can be challenging for the accused to change it. With that said, it is best to hire a defense attorney to discuss your side with the prosecutors. Your lawyer can give them further evidence, inform them about witness statements, and provide photographs, emails, voicemails, and other information that could positively influence the prosecutor’s formal filing decision.
Aside from that, the defense lawyer can handle one of the crucial processes in the pre-filing stage, the negotiation. Here, your attorney can propose a pretrial diversion program, probation, another beneficial outcome, or a lesser included offense.
However, some options may not be available after the prosecution has filed the charges. That is because they will start holding the arraignment once they have formally filed charges.
Seek Legal Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney
You may be arrested without formal criminal charges, and the prosecution council may charge you without knowing it. If you are unaware of your rights during these situations, you can be at risk of getting detained without any opportunity to fight for what you possess under the law. So, in these cases, seeking legal help from a criminal defense lawyer is the best step.
With the help of our attorneys at Hanlon Law, you can rest assured that the process during the pre-filing is in good hands. In addition to helping you defend yourself, we can also help you avoid charges for something you were wrongly accused of.
Contact our team today for a free consultation.
1111 3rd Ave W Ste 310
Bradenton, FL 34205