Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
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Orange County Police Investigations

Most people are familiar with local law enforcement, detectives, and arrest warrants – after all, they’re frequently represented in TV shows like Law and Order, and CSI. Most people aren’t however, clear on what exactly sparks a police investigation.

If you think you might be a target of what’s called a “pre-file” investigation, but you’re in mystery as to what is going on behind the scenes, we’re going to shed light on the subject.

For starters, a pre-file investigation simply refers to an investigation that takes place before criminal charges are filed. It’s the process of examining evidence and identifying the suspect of a crime so he or she can be prosecuted.

How Police Investigations Are Started

Suppose a man was walking down the street. Three men jumped out of a car and brutally attacked him – it was a hate crime. A witness to the attack noted the license plate number of the assailants’ vehicle. The witness called 911 as the attack was in progress.

When the police arrived on the scene, the attackers were long gone. The responding officer called an ambulance and spoke directly with the 911 caller, who stayed by the victim’s side. The officer took the 911 caller’s statement, including a description of the vehicle, a description of the suspects, and the license plate number of the suspect’s vehicle.

The responding officer collects any other evidence, writes a full report and hands it over to a detective at the station for further investigation, which may involve:

  • Interviewing victims, suspects and witnesses
  • Using police line-ups
  • Reviewing all evidence collected at the crime scene
  • Following up on tips from witnesses
  • Following any evidence trails
  • Having evidence tested (where applicable)

If the detective believes they have found the person responsible for a crime and they believe they have enough evidence, next they will seek an arrest warrant. At this point, the Prosecutor’s Office will get involved.

The prosecutor will review the case and determine if they will file charges against the suspect. If there is insufficient evidence, the prosecutor may tell law enforcement to “collect more evidence.”

If the prosecutor is willing to file charges, a warrant will be issued, the suspect will be arrested and the suspect will be brought to court for their first hearing – called the arraignment.

We sincerely hope this helps explain investigations. If you are the target of a police investigation in Orange County – contact our firm immediately for a free consultation!