In the Atlanta area there are a number of different law enforcement agencies that are involved in investigating criminal offenses. This includes the police department of each individual city and municipality, the sheriff’s department of each of these places, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), and the state patrol. Due to the number of agencies and the resources available, it is imperative that if anyone believes that may be under investigation they consult with an Atlanta criminal lawyer to ensure their rights are protected, and they do not do anything to incriminate themselves in any way.
There are a number of charges that may be investigated prior to an arrest, most commonly these types of charges include things like drug trafficking, child molestation, computer fraud, or identity theft. In the case of these types of investigations, many times the indiviudal being investigated will not be told they are under investigation. Instead that indiviudal may notice things like police cars slowly driving by an individual’s house, people in unmarked cars taking pictures of their property, or a personal email that appears to be hacked. These various factors could indicate that someone is under investigation.
Another sign that an individual may be under investigation is if bank accounts or other types of financial accounts are frozen. Generally this can only happen with a court order, which means the investigating authorities would have to see a judge or magistrate and ask for an order to freeze those accounts. An individual then finds out that their account may be frozen when they go to funds out of their bank, but the bank will not give them the money.
During an investigation, law enforcement officials will speak to anyone that they feel can give them information about the case without compromising their investigation. This could include employers or co-workers, family members, friends, or even bank officials and other people someone may not know personally, but who have access to information about them. A good and thorough investigation will include talking to as many people as possible.
With that said, sometimes attorneys find that law enforcement officials are overworked or do not have the energy for investigation, so attorneys, as the defense, must investigate on their own and interview people that the police have not talked to. Sometimes, the police only gather enough information to make their case and attorneys have to do the rest of investigation to prove innocence.
After an arrest has been made, the law enforcement officials will typically turn over the investigation file to the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney then has their own investigators who will then continue the investigation.
Many times, however, attorneys find that the District Attorney’s Office does not investigate a case after arrest, but that they rely very heavily on the information provided to them by the police. The police may only have enough evidence for probable cause to make the arrest, and sometimes their investigation is not thorough enough to make a case stick in court.
Everything that someone has done in their name or on their computer online is available to the police if they search hard enough. Merely deleting e-mails or pictures they looked at from their computer does not mean those files are gone from their online account or even from the computer itself. The police have the ability to see e-mails, search history, websites visited, and even how long someone stayed on certain websites or how long they’ve looked at certain pictures.
The police can do most of this without a court order because there are searches that can be done by even lay people. However, sometimes a search warrant may be necessary in order to access accounts. Additionally, many of the cellphone and Internet service providers have a policy that they will not turnover these records without a subpoena or warrant, but certainly if the police have probable cause they can get those things.