What happens after someone commits a crime? Once a crime is committed, what follows is the preliminary investigation. Usually, someone calls the police or 911 and officers arrive at the scene. If there is an emergency, for instance, if someone was injured, they will be transported to the hospital.
Once the scene is secured, the officers will begin their investigation. Witnesses will be questioned, and if there is a victim, the officers will interview him or her in person and ask them questions about the incident. If there is a suspect at the scene, he or she will be detained and questioned, then the officers will either release the suspect or initiate an arrest.
The preliminary investigation may include:
- Photographing the scene of the crime
- Making a video recording
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Interviewing the victim
- Measuring the scene
- Sketching of the scene
- Recording officers' observations
- Collecting and processing physical evidence, such as a weapon, DNA, and fingerprints
Even when there is a thorough preliminary investigation, law enforcement usually needs to conduct a follow-up investigation in order to narrow down suspects, compare DNA evidence, interview more witnesses, recover weapons, and arrest a suspect.
The follow-up investigation may be conducted by the same officers that responded to the call, or it may be handled by a detective assigned to the case. Often, good leads are hunted down or found later on in an investigation and the detectives need to find out who might have wanted to hurt the victim, or who had access to stolen property, or who would have benefited from the crime.
Once the law enforcement agency has finished investigating a case, the agency may submit the case to the prosecutor for criminal prosecution. If there is sufficient evidence against a suspect, the DA may decide to file charges, they may decide to file different or additional charges, or they may reject the case for lack of sufficient evidence.
Are you under investigation for a crime? If so, contact a criminal defense attorney to see if you can avoid having formal charges filed in the first place!