Portland Maine Criminal Defense Attorney
Often times an investigation by local or federal authorities is begun without the knowledge of the person or entity that is the target thereof. It may be based on an anonymous tip, an allegation by the alleged victim, cooperation by an alleged co-conspirator or other sources. Sooner or later the existence of the investigation becomes known to the target either by the issuance of a subpoena, a visit by law enforcement or through other means. Unfortunately, too many people try to handle the problem on their own or simply ignore it hoping it will go away. This is a huge mistake and usually results in catastrophic results. Simply stated, if you discover that you are under investigation, it is imperative to immediately enlist the assistance of counsel who may make inquiry on your behalf and thereafter implement a strategy to obtain the best result.
While it may be tempting to go it alone due to confidence that the investigation will result in no charges, this tactic involves substantial risk. Doing nothing permits the investigators to undertake their work unimpeded by counsel’s efforts to ensure they act legally and/or to persuade them that their efforts are misguided since no illegality has occurred. When a subject of the probe speaks to law enforcement, those statements may never be retracted and often assist the investigation rather than prevent it. Once counsel is retained, you may discuss the pros and cons of various strategies before agreeing to an interview or to turning over evidence which may ultimately be used in against you. If after consulting with counsel it is decided that an interview would be helpful, counsel will accompany you to the interview to ensure that it is done in a fair and impartial manner. Counsel can also point out or present evidence that persuades the investigators that their information is wrong and that no illegal conduct has occurred.
What Happens During an Investigation?
Once an investigation begins, it can take months sometimes years to complete. Generally speaking the federal government has a five years to bring a felony charge against a person, as long as the offense is one that did not result in death. Maine’s statute of limitations requires that most Class A, B, or C charge be brought within 6 years and within three years for Class C or Class D crimes as defined by Maine Title 17-A MRSA 8.
In addition to the foregoing, waiting for an investigation to be completed to retain counsel reduces the amount of time your attorney has to investigate the facts and to create a viable defense. If retained early on, counsel may also arrange for you to surrender and to immediately be released on bail should charged with a crime.
What to Do If You Are Under Investigation
If you are being investigated for a crime, do not answer any questions without an attorney present as is your right under our constitution. Contact the Law Office of Richard S. Berne to ensure that you are treated fairly and to prevent unwarranted charges being brought against you by overzealous, misguided law enforcement personnel.
If you have already been charged, we also recommend that you contact our office to obtain the best possible result including dismissal of charges brought as the result of baseless allegations and/or distorted, misunderstood facts.