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Common mistakes to avoid during pre-charge investigations

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Facing a criminal investigation is undoubtedly upsetting. The weight of potential charges hangs heavily, and the uncertainty and fear people feel can lead to missteps. In South Carolina, pre-charge investigations are a critical phase where individuals must tread carefully.

During a criminal investigation, law enforcement agencies gather evidence, interview witnesses and assess whether there’s enough cause to file formal charges. What you say and do (or do not say or do) during this time matters greatly, so avoid these common mistakes to protect yourself.

Talking too much

When investigators show up or call, it’s natural to want to explain yourself or clear any misconceptions. However, remember your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you, so choose your words carefully and don’t feel compelled to volunteer any information.

Failing to seek legal counsel

Waiting until you are actually facing charges to consult an attorney can be a serious mistake.  Working with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you feel you are under investigation means you do not need to interact with state or federal law enforcement agents alone. Further, they can provide guidance to help you make informed decisions.

Ignoring search warrants

Search warrants grant law enforcement access to your property. Do not obstruct their execution, but also don’t volunteer information. Take note of what’s seized and consult your attorney promptly.

It is also crucial to know that you do not need to allow police to come into your home or search your vehicle and other property without a warrant. Even if you feel you have nothing to hide, allowing a warrantless search can be a big mistake.

Underestimating the impact of social media

Posts, photos and messages on social media can be damning evidence. Refrain from discussing the investigation online and consider adjusting privacy settings. It is far easier than many people think for law enforcement agencies to access things you say, share or send online and use against you in court.

Believing cooperation guarantees leniency

Cooperating with investigators does not guarantee leniency. Even if an officer or agent tells you this, know that they can utilize numerous tactics during an investigation, including deception. Be cautious and consult your attorney before making any decisions or agreements with the police.

Remember, you have rights during a pre-charge investigation. To protect these rights, seek legal advice, remain silent and avoid these common pitfalls.

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