How you should behave if you have been summoned to an investigation at a police station or at a private investigation agency. How a suspect should act during interrogations regarding any subject. What are the rights of the suspect during the investigation
Have You Been Summoned to an Investigation? What to Expect and How to Act
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Have You Been Summoned to an Investigation? What to Expect and How to Act


The fear of being summoned to a police investigation haunts many activists related in one way or another to the recent elections in the center of the Likud party.  These activists are tense. They are avoiding contact. They don’t answer calls from unlisted numbers.  If an unlisted number appears on their cellular phone screen, they won’t answer because it may be an investigator from the National Unit for Fraud Investigations calling to summon them to an investigation, or a private investigator hired to collect information regarding certain events.

What do they need to go to Bat Yam for, where the headquarters of the National Unit for Fraud Investigations are located? That’s the last thing they need. They won’t allow police investigations or private investigation agencies to spoil the euphoria they have been shrouded in since their seat was ensured on the Knesset list of the Likkud or Labor parties.

Dear friends, whether you are a suspect, a witness, or simply involved in a necessary investigation, believe me - as someone who has investigated public and other figures in any type or level of private or police investigation for several years - it is not advisable to evade these investigations. Sooner or later they’ll catch up to you. The sooner, the better.

It will release you from the burden of emotional tension that will effect your daily functioning.  Besides, it doesn’t serve public figures well when they are traced only after unnecessary pursuits or commissioned headlines in the press (such as those associated with the Deputy Minister Naomi Blumenthal, “She’s Gone Underground”).

If nevertheless you were “caught” and summoned to an investigation (or if you decided to approach the investigators on your own initiative out of the belief that you hold material that is potentially useful for the investigation or that may clear you from suspicion raised by the press or another person interrogated), allow me to equip you with a number of important and practical tips for any general investigation (and not for any specific investigation currently underway).

If the subject of discussion is a publicized investigation, as we are familiar with these days, there are no surprises. Everything is known and in the open. There are arrest extensions. There are leaks. There are discussions with lawyers. There is the operation of private investigators. There are coordination and clarification discussions that often times turn into the execution of court and investigation procedure violations. Anyone holding information should not play innocent when he or she receives a summons by phone or a prearranged and coordinated visit from investigators at the National Unit for Fraud Investigations.

You should clarify with the investigator who summoned you what your status is (witness or suspect), and the type and level of your involvement. In all probability, the investigators will not tell you over the phone. They will probably say, come see us and you will find out everything you need to know.

Before arriving at the Bat Yam offices, do not call or meet with anyone that you are aware is from the press, or anyone else being investigated. Do not hire private investigation agencies to find out what you are facing. You might complicate yourself in one of the serious violations that many commit out of pressure and anxiety, known as “disruption of court and investigation procedures.

The investigators are waiting for you to slip this way. Even if you cannot be accused of the suspicions being investigated, a violation such as this will lead you to arrest and perhaps even its extension in a court of law. If you know you have reason to be concerned, you should only call a lawyer who can consult you on how to conduct yourself.

If you arrive at the Bat Yam unit offices, representatives of the media will be waiting there for you. The more senior your position, the larger and more versified the group of photographers and reporters. They will shove microphones in front of your mouth. If your persona and public image are important to you, you can answer them with general, vague responses. Do not be dragged into discussing issues related to the investigation.

This can only do harm. Don’t try to avoid the photographers. You should not coordinate hidden exit routes with the investigators. There will always be a photographer (who may have gotten a tip) that is waiting to ambush you and catch you in his lens. A photograph taken from behind doesn’t look good. It doesn’t score you any points. It will cause others to think you have something to hide.

You’ve entered the investigation room. If you’re a woman, a female investigator will be present as well. At the beginning of the investigation, after the usual polite exchange, the investigators will begin by asking general questions. They will try to estimate your willingness to cooperate. They will not rush to present you with the findings they have already collected regarding your case. You will be required to answer questions first.

If you are not otherwise warned, realize that you have a witness’s status and must therefore answer all questions. You should not play cat and mouse games. Answer the questions you know about. Speak factually.  If you are not sure about certain things, use the ultimate doubtful phrases: “to the best of my memory, as far as I know, I’m not sure and I should check again before giving you a final answer…”

The atmosphere in the investigation rooms of the National Unit for Fraud Investigation is usually fair and businesslike. There is no violence. The investigators, both young and senior alike, are intelligent with a broad knowledge and great deal of experience. They are always prepared. They are equipped in time with all the material necessary to get a confession out of you. This is their clear advantage over you. If you have decided to cooperate, do so consistently. Don’t try to deceive them.

They will be on to you very fast. They will pull stunts on you - raising their voices, alternating role-playing.  Sometimes, the head of the division or a more senior officer (depending on your position) will enter the room and pitch a predetermined question: “So, what’s happening with him? Has he started to sing yet…” or other stressful and bothersome comments intended to get you to cooperate with the investigation so that they can crack the case and confirm suspicions.

The investigators will always be sure that every comment or investigative stunt is within the framework of the law. They will not give you the pleasure of summoning them to a trial within a trial at a court, regarding attaining evidence by wrongful and illegal means. They are familiar with the law and are careful, accordingly.

When your verbal responses are transcribed, be sure that the investigators read aloud what they are writing.  Follow the reading.  Make certain that the questions raised by the investigators are listed as “questions” and that your answers are listed as “responses”.  At the end of the investigation, carefully read the entire transcription.

You can fix and revise in the margins and sign the document with your initials, just like a contract. The transcription should reflect what happened in the investigation room. If you took a break in the questioning at the investigator’s initiative or your own, for various reasons such as a food break or general ill feeling warranting a pause, be sure that it is all noted on the transcription pages. 

   In some cases, at the end of the first round of investigations you will be asked to wait outside or in another investigation room. In your absence, the investigators will crosscheck and confirm your statements. Your waiting period outside the investigation room will depend on your status. The more senior your position, the shorter your waiting time (if they even make you wait at all). They may put you into a waiting room with your lawyer to “stew”.  It all depends on the circumstances and on the progress of the investigation.

Prepare yourself for a confrontation with another interrogate related to your investigation. This is a common procedure, and not a stunt meant to trap you. Every confrontation is led and directed by one of the investigators, who either transcribes or tapes and films the confrontation. It is advisable to disclose everything you already did in your main investigation, and preferably (as much as possible) in the same wording. Consistency is an indicator of your credibility. If you are consistent and reliable, the investigators will back off sooner and quicker than you think.

When the initial investigation has ended, there are a few possibilities. The first, which is most convenient and desirable, is that in the event that you are a witness, you will be allowed to sign a statement and not be required to discuss the investigation with anyone - neither with a private investigator nor with the owner of a private investigation agency. Ask the investigators to advise you who to speak to and who not to speak to. They should have an answer to your request.

If you are a suspect, there are two main possibilities. The first is that you are arrested within 24 hours with the commonly accepted rationale - suspicion of possible investigation tampering.  If the investigation is exhausted, you will be released on self and third party bail at the end of the first period determined by law. The release can occur in the offices of the investigative unit, which is of course very convenient, or otherwise in a court of law.  Then it is a whole other story. Publication of the affair makes your story public as well. There is no escape.

When you leave the investigation unit offices, media representatives will always be waiting. They will photograph you and stick a microphone in front of you in an attempt to get a comment. They will ask you what you were interrogated about, and you should answer - “I am forbidden to discuss the investigation.”

Any comment that exposes details of the investigation may cause you to be suspicious of disrupting the investigative process. And this should definitely be avoided. The punishment for this kind of violation is usually harsher than the violation you are being interrogated about.

If the investigators find that there is a justifiable reason to prolong your arrest, you will be led to a court of law. A discussion will be held there regarding the lengthening of the arrest. It is advisable to be represented by a lawyer. Each side will plead its case. Your attorney will be in an inferior position to that of the police representative, who will present confidential information supporting the request for the lengthening of your arrest to the judge alone.

You will get a few days, if any at all, depending on the judge’s decision. The procedure will usually be accompanied by media coverage. This is the unpleasant, but inevitable part. This is the cost of being a public figure, or of being investigated with regards to a matter of great public interest.

Remember the strength of innocence. You are not guilty until proven otherwise. Act accordingly.  Avoid mistakes which stem from misunderstanding of the law and the rights of the interrogatee. Consult lawyers that you trust. You will be able to receive an offer from them that will protect you from any unnecessary damages.

In closing, I would like to set the record straight on some investigative terms that the media often uses incorrectly. There is great confusion regarding the meanings of “examination”, “investigation”,  “testimony”, and “proclamation”. When the media uses these terms it sounds like a word wash, intended to soften or calm the suspects. Professionals in the field know how to properly decipher the meaning. So here we go.

If an official investigation has commenced, whether public or concealed, and you are required to answer the questioning of the investigators, you are giving a “proclamation”.  What you give in a court of law, if you ever get to that position, is “testimony”. As a suspect being investigated, you have the right to remain silent. As a witness, you must answer any question asked, and truthfully.

It is true that sometimes initial information is received from the state comptroller (or any other source) whose criminal significance is not yet clear and so an examination procedure begins. This procedure is conducted by investigators and lawyers.

The Legal Consultant to the government gives either the red or green light to begin an investigation. During the course of this type of investigation, the examiners are entitled to summon those involved and those who can positively contribute or shed light on certain details that may alter the course of the case. If you have been summoned during this examination period, you have made a proclamation in the framework of the examination. Those summoned during the examination period are not suspects, but rather professionals called in whose expertise and experience are important in deciphering the collected evidence.

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