How To Stop A Criminal Case From Becoming A Fishing Expedition
If you're facing criminal investigations or charges, one of the most important tasks is to keep the police and prosecutors from fishing for offenses and evidence. How do you accomplish that when the state has so much power under criminal law, though? Do these three things to reduce the odds a case will turn into a fishing expedition.
Hire a criminal law attorney the moment you get a whiff of the possibility a cop or prosecutor might think you did something wrong. A wait-and-see attitude might save some money today and cost your freedom down the road.
If a lawyer isn't present to push back against questionable investigative practices, you're going to have a hard time doing it yourself. A criminal law attorney knows the rules. They can tell the state when to back off and document what follows if they ignore the warning. Likewise, if the state goes too far, your lawyer can petition the court to intervene.
Whenever the police investigate something, they must have a specific purpose. Even if a cop is nosing around your car during a traffic stop, they have to quickly establish reasonable suspicion or leave you alone.
Specificity is even more important if the police are serving a search warrant. They can only look in the places named in the warrant. Likewise, they can only look for what they've named. While they can take note of anything sitting in the open, they can't tear through unspecified locations. If the warrant is for a search of your garage, for example, the police can't move to search the basement unless they see you move something there.
You won't be able to make a cop stop, but you can document what happens. Record incidents whenever possible using cell phones, tablets, dash cams, and security systems. Also, try to stream the video live to the cloud or a social media account to prevent the police from seizing it.
Use the System
Criminal law provides off-ramps for cases that are going badly. However, not all prosecutors have the good sense to pull the plug on cases. You may have to ask a judge to review the situation. If there is only an investigation without charges, your lawyer may want to pressure the police by filing a harassment complaint. If there are charges pending, your attorney can ask the court to dismiss the charges based on the failings of the investigation or police or prosecutorial misconduct.