suspect | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Investigations

A suspect refers to a person who is believed by law enforcement to have committed a crime but who has not yet been charged or convicted.

When a crime is reported, law enforcement officials will typically begin an investigation to identify potential suspects. This may involve collecting evidence at the scene of the crime, interviewing witnesses, and conducting background checks on individuals who may have a motive or opportunity to commit the offense.

Once a suspect has been identified, law enforcement officials may seek to question or detain them for further investigation. However, it is important to note that being identified as a suspect does not necessarily mean that the individual has committed a crime or will be charged with a crime.

In order for an individual to be charged with a crime, there must be sufficient evidence to establish probable cause that the person committed the offense. This may involve presenting evidence to a grand jury or obtaining a warrant for the suspect’s arrest.

It is also important to note that being identified as a suspect does not necessarily mean that the individual’s rights are suspended. Suspects are still entitled to due process of law and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

Overall, the identification of a suspect is a crucial step in the criminal justice process, as it allows law enforcement officials to focus their investigation and gather evidence to support criminal charges. However, it is important to ensure that suspects are treated fairly and that their rights are protected throughout the process.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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