How Do Police Detectives Investigate a Criminal Case?

Police Detective / Investigator Contact: Advice from an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Colorado police detectives investigate crimes in 5 basic steps. From the beginning of a criminal case to the point where an arrest occurs or an arrest warrant is issued, it is normally the same. Here is a list of the steps, and then we can discuss each one separately.

  • The 911 Call to Denver Police
  • An Arapahoe County Patrol Officer or Deputy Sheriff is Dispatched
  • A Douglas County Police or Sheriff Detective / Investigator is Assigned
  • The Adams County Detective / Investigator Calls or Comes to See You
  • You are Arrested or Charged in Jefferson County

The 911 Call to Denver Police

Every domestic violence or other criminal case starts with a call to 911 or some other nonemergency number. Here, a police dispatcher records every phone call and asks questions to determine: the identity of the caller, the subject of the emergency 911 call, the crime possibly committed, the urgency of a police response (cold case vs. urgent need), the identity of the accused, the description of the accused, and details of the offense. This information will aid the police department or sheriff department in its triage of cases and helpful statements to a prosecution later.

An Arapahoe County Patrol Officer or Deputy Sheriff is Dispatched to: Aurora, Centennial or Littleton

Patrol officers for the Arapahoe County Sheriff and city police departments will come to the scene of a reported crime to complete a written police report. This report will contain statements from the alleged victim and pro-prosecution witnesses. I say "pro-prosecution" because most officers want a conviction so bad that they will ignore witnesses favorable to the defense. The only defense witness will be the accused. The officer will try and get the accused to make admissions to hurt them later in trial. This can include admissions like: Did you touch her? Did you break this? Were you angry? What did you do? Was your child present? Do you agree your child was scared? This can all be used against the government at trial to show their bias. Officers will try and gather evidence at this time which comes in the form of physical evidence put in a bag, finger prints, pictures, drawings / charts, hand written witness statements, blood samples, damaged items, etc. These officers and deputies make the decision whether to file charges.

A Douglas County Police or Sheriff Detective / Investigator is Assigned: Castle Rock, Parker and Lone Tree

A police detective is assigned to follow up in most felony cases and more serious misdemeanor cases. They do this to gather additional evidence overlooked by the less experienced patrol officers. The detective can order tests from forensic labs, take more pictures, canvas for more witnesses helpful to the government, get DNA samples, order background checks on parties, and prepare the case for the District Attorney / prosecutor to review. Once the DA approves of the case or asks for more investigation, the detective will prepare an Affidavit for Arrest Warrant and ask a judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused if he / she is not already in custody. After an arrest, the detective will assist the prosecutor handling the case.

The Adams County Detective / Investigator Calls or Comes to See You: Brighton or Thornton

One of the most dangerous steps for our clients is when the Brighton or Thornton police detective calls or comes by. The detective will try and get the accused to talk - any talk at all is helpful for the prosecution. The detective wants to convict, so they ask questions and take notes with that in mind. They don't write down helpful things you say. They believe lying is a valid police investigative technique. Never ever ever speak with them. Instead, tell them you want to talk with a criminal defense attorney.  You cannot help yourself and will always hurt your defense. Unfortunately, since children, we are taught the police are our friends and are there to help. By the time the police come, they have already decided you are the bad guy.  And, no, they are not your friend.

You are Arrested or Charged in Jefferson County: Lakewood or Golden Police

Lakewood and Golden Police quickly conclude that your arrest is necessary in their case. So, they will arrest you and make you post a bond or bail (largely the same thing - there is no real difference). After being arrested, the accused is taken to a jail where they are booked. Booking involves taking your picture and fingerprints. Next, a background and warrants check is made. You will then have a bond set at the scheduled amount. This is the amount the judges in your district vote on in advance. You can see a judge next, or post your bond using a cash bond or a bondsman. Property bonds are largely disfavored.

These five steps are designed to aid in your conviction. Getting to the truth of what happened is not part of the system. Usually the first to call the police wins, unless it is a woman vs. man, and then 80% of the time police will arrest the man. So, never give a statement to police and call us at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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