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View Full Version : murder investigation protocol - q's from suspect's POV...



Jill_Blake
05-18-2016, 02:11 AM
I have several "police procedure" questions about timing/location/info given to suspect in a murder investigation. Sorry if these are basic or covered elsewhere (would appreciate pointer to answers)...

The situation: Couple living in California. Separated, undergoing contentious divorce. They do not live together, and only real communication they have is through lawyers. Wife is murdered. Husband is suspect.

1) how would police contact husband about the murder? Would they call? Show up at his home or office?
2) Would he be questioned on the spot, or brought into the police station for questioning? Would he need a lawyer to be present? Does he have any say in where/when the questioning takes place?
3) if there is DNA evidence (under wife's nails), how soon would it get processed? when might the husband be asked for DNA sample for comparison? If the DNA is NOT a match, would the husband be informed of this?
4) would police ask husband to take a polygraph test? if so, where would the polygraph test take place? how long does it take to administer? Do the police tell the husband if he "passed", and if so, when would he be told?
5) if the police decide the husband is "cleared", would he be told that? if yes, how & by whom? If no, is there any way he could find out what the status of the investigation is?

Thank you!

CWatts
05-18-2016, 02:25 AM
Not an expert, but in this situation I'd imagine police are considering it could be a murder for hire, so his DNA not matching the actual killer as well as him having an alibi for time of death aren't necessarily exculpatory. They would also be examining his financial records, etc.

He can refuse to answer any questions without a lawyer present. Note that his divorce lawyer would not be representing him, but could refer him to a criminal defense attorney.

Jill_Blake
05-18-2016, 03:14 AM
in this situation I'd imagine police are considering it could be a murder for hire, so his DNA not matching the actual killer as well as him having an alibi for time of death aren't necessarily exculpatory. They would also be examining his financial records, etc.

He can refuse to answer any questions without a lawyer present. Note that his divorce lawyer would not be representing him, but could refer him to a criminal defense attorney.

____

Good point--so it would take some time to go through financials. I guess then there's another q here too: what kind of authorization do the police need for getting this info? E.g. is a search warrant sufficient to get bank records, or would a subpoena (or some other document) be required? Would it be enough to say that he's a suspect in a murder investigation to have probable cause to collect his computers, cell phone records, paper files, bank records/investment account records etc?

jclarkdawe
05-18-2016, 04:14 AM
I have several "police procedure" questions about timing/location/info given to suspect in a murder investigation. Sorry if these are basic or covered elsewhere (would appreciate pointer to answers)...

The situation: Couple living in California. Separated, undergoing contentious divorce. They do not live together, and only real communication they have is through lawyers. Wife is murdered. Husband is suspect.

1) how would police contact husband about the murder? Would they call? Show up at his home or office? They'd show up at his home or office. Office would be preferred and especially if they want to embarrass the guy.
2) Would he be questioned on the spot, or brought into the police station for questioning? Would he need a lawyer to be present? Does he have any say in where/when the questioning takes place? Initial questioning would be on the spot, but how extensive this is and whether he gets hauled down to the station depends upon how much evidence against them the police have.
3) if there is DNA evidence (under wife's nails), how soon would it get processed? when might the husband be asked for DNA sample for comparison? If the DNA is NOT a match, would the husband be informed of this? Evidence is developed by labs depending upon how over loaded with work they have and what sort of priority. Husband would be asked immediately, but could refuse and the police might need to get a search warrant.
4) would police ask husband to take a polygraph test? if so, where would the polygraph test take place? how long does it take to administer? Do the police tell the husband if he "passed", and if so, when would he be told? Defense counsel wouldn't want to have him take a polygraph unless he passed a private polygraph. Depends upon how the police want to play it as to whether he's told he passed.
5) if the police decide the husband is "cleared", would he be told that? if yes, how & by whom? If no, is there any way he could find out what the status of the investigation is? It depends.

Thank you!

Jim Clark-Dawe

WeaselFire
05-18-2016, 05:31 AM
3) if there is DNA evidence (under wife's nails), how soon would it get processed? when might the husband be asked for DNA sample for comparison? If the DNA is NOT a match, would the husband be informed of this?

Here in Florida, backlog is six weeks to three months on priority cases. The husband could be asked any time they suspect, compelled with a warrant if there is enough evidence for a judge.


4) would police ask husband to take a polygraph test? if so, where would the polygraph test take place? how long does it take to administer? Do the police tell the husband if he "passed", and if so, when would he be told?

Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on the investigation and where it's going. Polygraph is normally given in the police station, often in an interrogation room. Takes anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, depending on what they ask and how many questions. There is no pass/fail on the exam and the suspect is never told. Results are provided to the defense if there is a charge.

This part really depends on what you need for your story. Frankly, there rarely is a polygraph done anymore.


5) if the police decide the husband is "cleared", would he be told that? if yes, how & by whom? If no, is there any way he could find out what the status of the investigation is?

Nope and nope. Nobody is ever formally "cleared" except by conviction of someone else. Open cases are discussed, especially with a suspect or potential suspect. The first "status" the suspect finds out about is the arrest.

Really, what do you need for the story? The possibilities are endless, find what you need then ask how to make it work.

Jeff

Jill_Blake
05-18-2016, 10:01 AM
Really, what do you need for the story? The possibilities are endless, find what you need then ask how to make it work.

Jeff

Thank you, Jim and Jeff!

Seems like the more answers I get, the more questions I have ;-D

The husband is supposed to be the good guy here, so sounds like I need to have someone else arrested/convicted.

So...when doing DNA testing or comparing of fingerprints to come up w possible suspects, how broad a net do police cast? Are there databases of dna/fingerprints for foreign criminals that can be checked/accessed by local police?
The killer is actually a foreign national w organized crime connections back in Russia. There's a whole back-story there...the relevant part is that this person had also killed multiple people in Russia. He is here on tourist visa, has no ties in US other than the woman (wife) whom he kills here. The woman was also originally from Russia, and related to one of previous murder victims. Her death is a "tying up of loose ends".
If it's too improbable that police would catch a foreigner, would the case then remain unsolved and the husband left under cloud of suspicion in perpetuity? (Unless he connects the dots...and since he's a suspect, would the police believe him?)

cornflake
05-18-2016, 10:36 AM
Thank you, Jim and Jeff!

Seems like the more answers I get, the more questions I have ;-D

The husband is supposed to be the good guy here, so sounds like I need to have someone else arrested/convicted.

So...when doing DNA testing or comparing of fingerprints to come up w possible suspects, how broad a net do police cast? Are there databases of dna/fingerprints for foreign criminals that can be checked/accessed by local police?
The killer is actually a foreign national w organized crime connections back in Russia. There's a whole back-story there...the relevant part is that this person had also killed multiple people in Russia. He is here on tourist visa, has no ties in US other than the woman (wife) whom he kills here. The woman was also originally from Russia, and related to one of previous murder victims. Her death is a "tying up of loose ends".
If it's too improbable that police would catch a foreigner, would the case then remain unsolved and the husband left under cloud of suspicion in perpetuity? (Unless he connects the dots...and since he's a suspect, would the police believe him?)

Fingerprints on what? No, local police can't access a database of DNA for foreign criminals. If the country of origin had such a db, it's possible to ask, through channels, but if they had a suspect, it'd be a thing. There's not just 'let's run this through the db and see if there's a match,' if I'm understanding your q. correctly.

It'd be a specific country or org that even had such a thing. We don't have such a thing here. There's no giant national database of criminal DNA. There are some foreign prints in IAFIS (which is, but is not, a national db of fingerprints), but they're not random criminals.

As to your original, q. 2, depends. Cops without a warrant for your arrest can ask you anything they want, without reading you your rights. If you answer, you're kind of an idiot, but people do, so cops do it. If they actually arrest him, they'll read him his rights and then start asking questions. If he wants a lawyer, he should say that. Ain't no cop in the world going to volunteer that someone he or she wants info from should call up a lawyer. 3. Depends on location. Most depts. have huge backlogs. 4. Depends. They're mostly used to fuck with people. Size and level of the department matters greatly here. A small dept. might work like weasel said, above, which is not at all how a polygraph should be administered, but there are a lot of people have no idea what they're doing, doing it.