Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys

You’re under investigation by law enforcement. Now what?

Seattle Under Investigaton Lawyers

You miss a phone call from a detective. You find a business card on your front door. The police show up at your place of work. You’re being investigate for a crime. The cops will tell they just want to “hear your side” of the story so they can “close out the file.” The police will say just about anything to try and get you to talk. Don’t do it. Call an attorney instead.  

We will intervene early in the process and make sure everything is done correctly from the very beginning. A case can sometimes be stuck in the investigation stage for months on end, and there are often many proactive things we can do now to either avoid charges ever being filed in the first place, or if they are filed, to help your case down the road.

Below, you’ll find answers to many common questions related to being under criminal investigation, but the best way to make sure your individual questions are answered is to simply give us a call for a free, no strings attached consultation.

Common Pre-Filing Investigation Questions

No.  The police are trying to build a case against you.  Do not help them by talking.  This holds true even if you are 100% innocent.  It may seem counterintuitive, but even if you say something that you believe should “clear your name” as a suspect, your words could get turned around and be used against you. Talk to your lawyer, and that’s it. 

 

No.  It is very tempting to want want to confide in in family and friends. However, the problem is that if you do so and the police subsequently question them, they can end up using the statements you made to your family/friends against you over the course of their investigation.  Worse yet, if you get formally charged with a crime, your loved one can receive a subpoena to testify against you.  We realize from a practical standpoint that you may have already confided in a spouse, parent, or other loved one. If so, that’s OK, but moving forward, it’s best to simply speak to your attorney about the investigation, and that’s it.

 

It’s possible, yes.  It depends on a variety of factors including the type of offense you are being investigated for, the recency of the allegations, your presumed flight risk, your criminal history, etc.  It also depends on the particular detective and filing prosecutor assigned to the case and what their standard practices are.  One of the main things we attempt to accomplish when representing clients in the pre-filing investigation stage of a case is to speak with the detective ASAP to try to talk them out of an immediate and unannounced arrest, and rather just have your case submitted to the prosecutor’s office for further review.  If an arrest cannot be avoided, we seek to arrange for a surrender at a particular date/time so you do not have to worry about the cops showing up at the door unannounced.

 

 

There’s a number of things we do on behalf of client’s in the pre-filing investigation stage of a case.  First and foremost, if there is any information we can provide to law enforcement or the prosecutor that can help clear your name and avoid a filing altogether, then that is the best-case scenario.  While this doesn’t happen in most cases, it does happen a handful of times in a given year, so it is always the first line of defense.  There are a number of individualized considerations that go into a pre-filing decision to not file charges, so we would need to speak with you in detail to explore this option.

In addition, we seek to open up a general line of communication with the police and/or the prosecutor’s office.  We call and email them to let them know we are representing you and that all communication regarding the investigation needs to go through our office.  We follow-up to check on the status of the investigation and when/if the police will be sending the case to the prosecutor’s office for review.

If the police and/or prosecutor’s office is seeking a warrant for your arrest, we see if we can talk them out of an arrest in the pre-filing stage, and rather simply have a summons issued for an appearance in court.  However, If an arrest cannot be avoided, we seek to arrange for a surrender at a particular date/time so you do not have to worry about the cops showing up at the door unannounced.  When necessary, we can also recommend well-regarded bail bond companies to make arrangement for bail.

We also start gearing up and strategizing your overall defense at this stage.  In short, having an attorney by your side at the early stages of a case is the best way to ensure your rights are being protected from the start.

It depends on what you are being investigated for.  The RCW entitled “Limitations of Actions,” commonly referred to as the Statute of Limitations, outlines how long an investigation can drag on for.  If the statute of limitations expires and you have not been charged yet, you are in the clear.  The table below is not comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of typical limitations.

It is also very important to note that if there is any period of time that you do not live in Washington State, then the statute of limitations is “tolled,” meaning it does not run.  For example, if you allegedly committed a felony in January of 2014 and then immediately moved out of state for three years and then moved back in January 2017, the statute does not start to run until January 2017.

No.  Polygraphs can be a very useful tool in the pre-filing investigation stage of a case, but do not do it at the police station.  Rather, consult with an attorney first, and if it’s in your best interest to do a polygraph, we can refer you to take a private examination with highly regarded polygraph examiners.  Give us a call to get more details about how these tests work and whether you should take one.

 

For most jobs, you do not have to disclose the fact that you are under investigation for a crime.  At this point, you have not been formally accused of anything, so telling your employer could end up raising false alarms and needlessly put your job at risk.  Likewise, even if formal charges are filed, you still often do not have to report it to your job.  However, there are some exceptions to this, and if you’re ever unsure about what your obligations are, you should make sure to review your employer’s policy on this issue.  

 

You will be booked into a county or city jail (or a Federal Detention Center if it is a federal case).  Once there, you will be booked and processed.  What happens next depends on whether your case is already filed or not.  

Pre-Filing Arrest: You will see a judge within 72 hours to be heard on the issue of bail.  In King County, cases can be heard all week and on Saturdays, but not Sunday.

Post Filing Arrest: You will be given an arraignment date within a couple of weeks and will also have the opportunity to post bail prior to arraignment if you choose.

If you are under investigation and the police arrest you, you will be taken to jail.  The vast majority of the time you will not released or be able to post bail until you have seen a judge, which will happen within 72 hours.  Your first appearance in front of a judge is often referred to as the “investigation calendar.”  This is where the judge will do two things:

  • He/She will review the initial police report, called the “probable cause” statement.  Based on this report alone, the judge will determine if there is enough evidence to keep the case going or if it should be dismissed.  Unfortunately, probable cause is a very low standard of evidence, so it is only rarely not found.
  • Assuming probable cause is found, arguments will then be made about bail and other release conditions.  From a defense standpoint, we will either be arguing for release on your own personal recognizance or a low bail.  Meanwhile, the prosecutor will often be asking for a substantially higher bail.  Ultimately it is up to the judge to decide.

After this hearing, you will either be released or remain in custody until your next hearing.  In King County, your next hearing is typically two days later.  If the prosecutor still hasn’t decided to file charges by then, you will be released without any conditions.  If charges will be filed, then you will have an arraignment a couple of weeks later and whatever conditions of release that were set at your initial appearance.

The judge looks at two main factors in determining bail: (1) Are you a flight risk? and (2) Are you a danger to the community?  Within these two main factors, there are a number of sub-factors for each.  For instance: What is the nature of the current charge? What sort of criminal history do you have? What sort of ties to the community do you have?  Give us a call for a full explanation of everything that is considered and to hear our proven strategy to get you released on you personal recognizance or to have bail set as low as possible.

We can set a hearing to have bail reviewed.  While there are no guarantees that this will result in a lower bail, we have a great track record of getting high bails reduced and are confident that our strategies and expertise will give you the best possible chance of getting your bail lowered.

 

You have two options: either pay the full amount of the bail in cash to the court, or use a bail bond agency.  When the bail is relatively low, it can sometimes make sense to pay the entire bail directly to the court as you get 100% of your money back at the conclusion of the case. On the other hand, if your bail is high, you will likely want to use a bail bond company.  Bail agencies typically charge and retain 10% of the total bond to get you out of jail.  However, with a private attorney, bail companies will write the bond at 8% as you are considered a lower risk of flight if you have hired a private attorney.  Of course, the higher the bail the more significant this discount becomes; on a $100,000 bail, you would pay $8,000 rather than $10,000.

 

Under Criminal Investigation? Protect yourself with a criminal defense lawyer.

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I would highly recommend Mr Court for any criminal case consulting. His approach was thoroughly professional. he was a great listener and a good strategist. His approach was methodical and he didnt rush into any decisions. I changed my counsel just before my first court date and Mr Court did an excellent job. The case was finally dismissed in my favor. I would consider myself lucky but Mr court had some innovative ways to approach my case. It was such a pleasure to have Mr Court on my side. He was super responsive over texts and emails. He was punctual and very gentle in communication.
We never imagined we would be in the position to need a defense attorney, but when we did, we were so thankful that we found Court Will. Both he and Michelle are truly the best. Court is extremely dedicated, thoughtful, calm, and confident. He took time to get to know us, the case, and really ensured that we understood not only what was happening, but all possible outcomes. Court was honest, answered every question, took his time with us, gave excellent advice, and ultimately got the best possible outcome we could have hoped for. He is brilliant, and we are most grateful.
After some research & speaking with other attorneys, I came across Court. I instantly knew he was right for my situation. I met him shortly after we discuss some details on the phone. He was very pleasant & very understanding of this difficult time in my life. One of the hardest things I have ever gone through. Of course I hired him. As months passed, he reached out to me & gave me the best news/results I have ever heard. I know the work he did in the background & I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you Court!
Chris
A knowledgable and caring attorney who got me an amazing result I was charged with a felony sex crime. I had a previous attorney before hiring Mr. Will. The other attorney told me I needed to plead guilty or I would go to prison for 3 years. Due to a number of reasons, I didn't want to go to trial, and Mr. Will respected that. Mr. Will went to court for me more times than I can count, did some additional investigation and ultimately told me that I could plead guilty to a lesser offense and get probation and house arrest. I was amazed. I give Mr. Will my highest recommendation.
Mike

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