How Long Does a Police Investigation Take?

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If you’re being investigated for criminal charges, you likely want to know what to expect. How do you know if you’re under criminal investigation? What are the things you should do or avoid doing in order to help your case? Most of all, you’re likely wondering how long does a police investigation take?

How to Know If You’re Under Police Investigation

Typically, the easiest way to know that you’re being investigated for a crime is that police will contact you to ask questions. The only exception to this will be if it’s an undercover investigation in which they’re trying to gather evidence without your knowledge. In most circumstances, though, the best way for the authorities to get the information they need is to go directly to the source and see what alibi or information you are able to provide to them.

What Should I Do If I’m Contacted By Police?

If you’re contacted by police, keep in mind that you don’t have to speak to them without having an attorney present. If you’re not under arrest, you don’t have to remain at the police station and continue talking to them if you wish to leave. Remember that any information you voluntarily provide without an attorney present can still be used in a case against you.

Should I Simply Go in and Attempt to Explain Everything?

One of the top misconceptions about being arrested or investigated on criminal charges is that the police are there to help you and if you’re under suspicion simply explain everything, the case will just go away.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Never give any information to police without having your attorney present to advise you. Even if you’re not guilty, you may inadvertently give damning evidence that may be twisted and used against you. A criminal defense attorney is familiar with the way these kinds of cases work and what needs to happen to provide you with a quick resolution and positive outcome.

How Long Does a Police Investigation Take?

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this question. An investigation will continue until authorities have gathered enough evidence to proceed forward with the case or decide that there isn’t enough evidence on which to proceed. This might involve waiting for the turnaround of forensic evidence or locating and interviewing witnesses, victims, or additional suspects. Investigation length may also depend on the caseload of the agency that’s conducting interviews and gathering evidence.

The length of time for a police investigation will also depend on the kind of crime that is being investigated and what sort of statute of limitations governs it. The statute of limitations around federal cases, for instance, is five years, so those kinds of investigations can go on for a very long time.

If the Case Goes to Trial, How Long Will That Process Take?

Again, there are no one-size-fits-all answers to the length of time the overall case may take once it goes to trial. Quicker cases can take a few months, while more complex ones can take a year or more.

Although all criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial, there are some cases in which having the process speed along may not be a positive development. For instance, if the defending attorney needs more time to gather evidence or investigate witnesses, they may file to waive the right to a speedy trial to buy more time. Your experienced criminal defense attorney will know which motions to file in order to have enough time to build a strong defense.