The most obvious sign that you are being investigated for a criminal offense in Prince William County is when the police reach out to you and ask for information, but say that they are not investigating you or that they won’t be bringing charges against you. Usually, this indicates they are doing exactly the opposite.
If police aren’t reaching out to you, however, it might be difficult to know. Police don’t have to tell you that you are subject to investigation, and if they don’t tell you and you can’t think of any reason you might be of interest to the police, it may be very hard to figure out that you are the target of an investigation.
Though it depends on the type of investigation, the scope, the nature of the charges, and the case law, people can generally assume that they will talk to anyone and everyone that will give them information about the case they are investigating. They are not going to necessarily talk to an employer, especially if they don’t believe your employer has anything to do with the criminal charge they are investigating. But if it is relevant to your case, Prince William police officers are not afraid to speak to your employer, your family and your friends. Whoever may help make their case stronger that is who the police are going to talk to.
The police can investigate at any point up to the moment that you are in the trial and even in the middle of a trial they can investigate. It is non-stop. They are going to do everything they can to make their case as strong as possible. They can subpoena records after you have been arrested, talk to witnesses and analyze and build their case.
All they need is probable cause to make an arrest. They don’t need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt comes at trial. Once they have that probable cause and make their arrest they will do what they can to make their case stronger so that they can defeat you in court.
Police can get access anything that you have done online; particularly if you put it out there voluntarily. In such instances, you no longer have expectation of privacy. This means things like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you put something out on a social media site and it is open to the public, then you no longer have the expectation of privacy and the police just like anyone else can obtain that information and use it against you.
However, Prince William County police officers typically have to show to a judge that they have reason to believe that information from one of these sources online are relevant to the criminal investigation and before they can get a court order. The order from the court will be served on the organization whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever else. Those companies will then have to comply with the court order and provide information.
Police can now obtain any information that you have put out and don’t protect to the public. They can use that against you. They can also obtain any information that you try to protect by subpoenaing the records or having a court order requiring disclosure of the records from the phone provider or the internet service provider or internet program.
Depending on the crime, your accounts can be frozen during an investigation if there is sufficient evidence and reason to freeze them. That being said, police don’t typically do that because it tips you off that you are being investigated. It is not common. If your accounts are frozen, it’s probably safe to assume that you are the target of an investigation.
A Prince William County criminal attorney can help by moving to quash subpoenas, use their private investigative tools, and give advice on how to best protect yourself from police investigation. They can also help people for trial and know what is important and what is not important so that while you are being investigated pending trial you don’t do anything affirmatively that could hurt your case. Having an attorney can definitely help you protect yourself, limit the amount of evidence the police can obtain against you, prevent you from doing something that can harm you in the future at trial and generally give you advice that can help you out.