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I have not yet been arrested but the police/FBI/BATF want me to come in for questioning. What should I do?
Generally, talking to law enforcement without counsel will result in charges’ being filed and evidence used against you. Make an appointment to speak with Mr. Haggard before you go in for questioning or make any statements. If you consult with Mr. Haggard first, he may be able to determine the motivation of law enforcement and whether it is in your best interest to make any statements. If it is, he may accompany you to talk to law enforcement, using every legal tool available to protect your constitutional rights.
Remember that the purpose of the questioning is to obtain evidence for your arrest. Thus, in many cases, the best advice is not to cooperate. Even if you are innocent, law enforcement believes you are guilty and will use your seemingly-harmless statements, and your efforts at exoneration, against you. The notoriety surrounding an arrest, even if the case is later won, is often enough to ruin one’s reputation and career; early intervention could forestall an arrest.
I have already spoken with law enforcement but have not been charged yet. Do I need an attorney?
Early intervention on the part of a knowledgeable attorney can prevent charges or an information or indictment from being filed. Even if the attorney cannot prevent charges from being filed, valuable rights and evidence crucial to the defense of the case may be lost by waiting. It’s never too early to speak with a qualified attorney – but it’s often too late.
As a Former Chief Prosecutor in both District and Misdemeanor Courts, Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Carl D. Haggard understands the charging process from the perspective of both law enforcement and the operations of the District Attorney’s office. As a Former Chief Prosecutor responsible for training Assistant DA’s, Mr. Haggard understands that prosecutors actually have broad discretion in deciding which allegations will be investigated and which charges will be filed.
When a well-qualified criminal defense attorney is brought on board early in a case, he may be successful in preventing charges from being filed. In a recent case, our client Tony Y. [no case number is available as charges were never brought] was accused of embezzling a large sum of money from his employer, a large, well-known fast food franchise. Mr. Y’s family retained Mr. Haggard before charges had been filed. Mr. Haggard, a trained, certified mediator, ascertained that the company did not want adverse publicity that it had been victimized. He then was able to negotiate with law enforcement and our client’s employers to obtain an agreement that allowed Mr. Y. to make restitution after which Mr. Haggard prepared a Release binding Mr. Y’s employers not to come after Mr. Y either criminally or civilly. Had the family not retained Mr. Haggard at this early juncture of the investigation, charges would definitely have been brought against out client.
In another case in which our pre-arrest mediation successfully prevented the filing of charges: Three clients came to us after having received a letter from the Financial Crimes Division of the Houston District Attorney’s Office regarding an alleged embezzlement from British Petroleum of up to $100,000 each. At the point our clients received their letter, the DA’s office was still investigating; no charges had been filed. Fortunately, they gave our clients the opportunity to consult with an attorney and agreed to work with their attorney during the investigation. Our clients hired Haggard Law Firm to represent them during the investigation phase. We met with the clients and painstakingly gathered all the necessary information. Then we conducted a series of meetings with the Special Prosecutions section of the DA’s office, in person and by phone, as well as presented written documentation. The end result was that we successfully prevented the filing of embezzlement charges against our clients. There is no case number as charges were never filed; records may be located under Special Prosecution Complaint No. 09-0083 with the DA’s office.
Below is a sampling of some of our arguments we successfully presented to the Houston Financial Crimes Division so as to preclude the filing of charges. It can be seen from this that excellent representation during the investigation stage CAN successfully forestall the filing of criminal charges.
The nature of the contract with British Petroleum – one that charged by the equipment on site as oposed to an hourly rate for workers – creates a system whereby managers direct employees to bill against the fund created by the contract. The Complainant company managers at the highest level were aware that they got BP to agree to basically create a “slush fund” by charging for equipment on site; then these managers directed employees to bill hours against that slush fund. Now management is accusing the workers of theft. We do not see this as a “defense of superior orders” as our clients indicate they do not see any wrong in billing hours under a system created for that very purpose. We would like to know if the Complainant company had to return to BP funds under a contract that charged for equipment in place if the Complainant company’s employees did not bill that amount. In the same vein, would BP have to pay in excess of the contract amount for equipment in place if the Complaianant company’s employees billed over the contract amount?
For all three of our clients, the Complainant has thrown out a number of figures as to the amount of the alleged embezzlement. You may be in possession of the accounting process used by the Complainant to come up with these figures and what amounts are alleged to be fraudulent, but we cannot advise our clients to subject themselves to demands for justification of dates and times on hourly timesheeets without having more information than a mere accusation that the timesheets are fraudulent….
Law enforcement told me they just want to help me, that they believe I was justified in my actions and that they want me to come in just to reconfirm their beliefs. Should I go?
No. Police and law enforcement agents will sometimes lie to obtain evidence or statements or confessions and this is not illegal. To give only one example, undercover officers could not operate if they told the truth about who they were and for whom they worked.
Other examples of statements they will make are that prosecutors will “appreciate your honesty” and that they already have sufficient evidence to get charges filed “so you may as well confess”.
Don’t believe it. If they have evidence sufficient to get you arrested, why do they need your further cooperation?
I went to the police for questioning then left without being arrested. Does this mean no charges will be filed, no warrant will be issued and I will not be arrested?
No; you are still subject to being arrested at a later date after charges are filed and a warrant is issued. Various factors contribute to a warrant’s being issued and an arrest’s taking place days, weeks or even months after questioning.
For example: We recently dealt with a drug case involving 400 grams of heroin in which the defendant was arrested and held for 6 hours after which he was released without charges’ being filed. One year after this incident, charges were filed and a warrant was issued, but the defendant was not arrested on the warrant until two years after the incident, when he went to renew his driver’s license.
Note: Clients have given their permission for any testimonials presented here.