How Do Pre-Charge Criminal Investigations Work in North Carolina?

At Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, our Charlotte criminal defense attorneys know how frightening it can be to have a North Carolina police officer, detective, investigator, or federal agent come to your home or work and ask about your involvement in a crime.

When law enforcement comes knocking, they are going to try to intimidate you into answering questions or insist that you accompany them to the police station to give a formal statement.

Any time the police or a federal agent wants to talk to you, whether they claim you are a suspect or not, you should call an experienced Mecklenburg County criminal defense lawyer before answering any questions to ensure your rights are protected.

The police will maintain that asking for an attorney makes you look guilty but the reality is, and they know it, it makes you look smart.

Our North Carolina criminal defense attorneys are available to help North Carolina residents during pre-charge investigations when responding to a warrant or after an arrest.

How Will I Know If I Am Under Investigation for a Crime In North Carolina?

If the police — whether city, county, state or federal — come to your home to question you about your involvement in a crime, consider yourself under investigation.

If the police contact your friends, family, coworkers, or romantic partners about where you can be found, what type of vehicle you drive, how you spend your time, your affiliation with others, or where you were on a certain date and time, consider yourself under investigation.

The police will do everything they can to gather information about you, especially if they consider you less of a witness of a crime and more as a suspect who committed one.

Additional signs that you are being investigated for a crime may include:

  • Police vehicles and unmarked cars consistently near your home or work
  • Friends/family members asking you direct questions about your involvement in a crime
  • Obvious signs of being followed, including seeing the same car everywhere you stop
  • Anonymous friend requests on social media

Whether the police are calling you a witness, person of interest, or a suspect, contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys in Charlotte today to understand your rights and ensure they are protected going forward.

How Does the Pre-Charge Investigation Process Work in North Carolina?

Crimes occur hundreds of times a day in North Carolina and not everyone who commits them is apprehended at the scene.

Once law enforcement is notified that a crime occurred, they will begin putting together the pieces of when and how it happened, including who committed the offense.

That includes processing the crime scene for evidence, including identifying and collecting:

  • Photos or video surveillance
  • Victim testimony
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • List of missing or damaged items
  • Fingerprints
  • Footprints
  • Clothing
  • Tools and tool marks
  • Unknown or biological substance samples
  • Trace evidence, including soil and fibers
  • Drugs and/or paraphernalia
  • Firearms

Once the scene is secured and evidence is collected, law enforcement will begin pursuing leads and identifying persons of interest.

Uniformed police officers will canvas the area and begin asking anyone and everyone if they know or saw anything suspicious around the time the crime occurred.

If your name is mentioned during police interviews — whether on the street or at the police station — you are next on their list.

Before speaking to the police, contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys in Charlotte to ensure your rights and best interests are protected.  Even if you are innocent of the crime in question, do not assume that is enough to maintain your freedom.

Never Speak to the Police Without an Attorney Present

If your name has been mentioned to the police, whether it was said to an officer who was canvassing the neighborhood where the crime was committed or by another person during an interrogation, they are going to want to talk to you.

Typically, they are going to want to have this conversation at their precinct, so they have the upper hand during the interrogation.

If you are not under arrest, you do not have to go to the police station for questioning, and you absolutely do not have to speak to the police without an attorney.

The police can manipulate your statement and adapt it to their theory, through intimidation or lies, which means you could quickly be under arrest before you even know what happened.

Never allow a police officer, detective, or investigator to tell you they only want to talk to you to eliminate you as a suspect.  That is not true.  You should never agree to be questioned by police without a lawyer present.

When Does an Investigation Turn into An Arrest in North Carolina?

Once the police have probable cause to arrest you for a crime, that is exactly what they will do.

That could come from forensic evidence — like fingerprints, DNA, or other trace evidence — that ties you to the crime scene.

It could also come from witness statements or surveillance footage that places you at the scene at or around the time the crime was committed.

That is why it is so important to retain a leading criminal defense lawyer in Charlotte the moment you believe you are under investigation, so the police know you have an attorney and are less likely to lie about the evidence they have against you to get you to confess.

Whether you are under investigation or have been arrested for a crime, you have rights.


  • You do not have to answer a police officer’s questions by phone or in person.
  • You do not have to allow law enforcement to search your car, home, or other property without a warrant.
  • You do not have to accompany the police to their precinct unless you are under arrest.
  • You have the right to remain silent if you are arrested until you can speak with an attorney.
  • You have the right to an attorney — always.  Hiring a lawyer during a criminal investigation or after your arrest does not make you look guilty.  It makes you aware of your rights.

Are You Under Investigation or Been Charged with a Crime in North Carolina?

The earlier you reach out to our skilled criminal defense attorneys in Charlotte, the quicker we can begin protecting your rights.

Contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys in Charlotte at the Marcilliat & Mills PLLC today by calling (704)-686-7933 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can empower you to take a stand and pursue real results for your unique legal circumstances.

At Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, Our Criminal Defense Attorney in Charlotte, NC Focuses On The Following Practice Areas:

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