5 Common Characters in a Criminal Investigation

From the outside looking in, it can seem like criminal investigations take an exceedingly long time. However, if you are directly involved in the process, the ordeal can seem overwhelming due to rapid and unfamiliar developments. A myriad of people will become involved; some of the more common ones are outlined below: 

  1. Person of Interest. In the immediate aftermath of a criminal act, the authorities will begin investigating the incident and formulate a list of people to speak with. There is some controversy over using this term; for high-profile cases, the police’s simply announcing a person of interest can result in many people jumping to conclusions when, in reality, many times the person of interest simply has information about the crime and is not the actual perpetrator. Someone designated as a person of interest has not been formally charged with a crime.
  2. Suspect. Charging someone with a crime requires a sufficient amount of evidence, so police will commonly refer to people they think are guilty as suspects. In many cases, a person of interest will be elevated to a suspect after the authorities discover certain evidence. The police will usually ask suspects to come to the station or precinct and ask questions of the suspect, but without the required evidence, the suspect is not legally obligated to be physically held (detained).
  3. Defendant. The police will be in contact with the district attorney or prosecutor during a criminal investigation. If all parties believe they can charge (and convict) someone with a crime, then the suspect will become the defendant and be arraigned in court on formal charges. If you have officially become a defendant in a criminal case, you now have the long, arduous process of a criminal trial in front of you.
  4. Detective/Investigator. Someone designated as a detective or investigator is a member of law enforcement. A detective uses interviews, forensics, existing information in a database, and other resources to determine suspects and gather further evidence in a criminal investigation. One of the most common ways these investigators gather information is to speak with witnesses.
  5. Witness.  A witness in a criminal investigation is commonly summoned to court to testify about his or her supposed knowledge related to a crime. There are different types of witnesses, such as an expert witness, but what most people think of as a witness is referred to as percipient. A percipient witness absorbed pertinent information about a crime through one of his or her senses (sight or hearing, for example).

Call Us

For first-timers, the different characters and terms involved in a criminal investigation can be confusing and somewhat frightening. An experienced legal team can make all the difference in this situation. Please reach out to us today and let us help you arrive at the best possible outcome. 

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Abdallah Law has been a successful law firm serving the people of Chicago and the surrounding area for years. This success can be attributed to one thing: Our team. At Abdallah Law, protecting our clients’ rights and safeguarding their liberties is the driving force of everything we do.

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