What to do if one day you, as a foreigner in Korea, receive a phone call from an investigator telling you that you are going to be investigated in relation to a crime?
If you can afford a lawyer, you can tell the investigator that you will contact him back again after hiring one. However, not all cases require you to have a lawyer. On the contrary, hiring an attorney in some cases may indicate that you are afraid of something, which can give the wrong impression to the investigator.
Today we will talk about available countermeasures when you receive a call from an investigator.
- What to do when you receive a call from an investigator
There are a lot of cases when an investigator, due to the inability to speak a foreign language, either hires an interpreter to call you or sends a message, notifying about the necessity to conduct an investigation. And usually a foreigner gets very shocked by such news, which is only natural, considering that he or she does not know Korean laws and have never dealt with such issues before.
When you receive such a phone call, first thing you should do is ask 1) the name of the crime and 2) main facts and points of the crime. After having listened to the explanation, if you think you are innocent and the charge is not related to you, you should strongly deny the accusation from the very beginning. If the case is related to you, you should still not admit any facts over the phone. You should say that you will explain everything later during the suspect questioning, which you will attend after the date of questioning is set.
Particularly, in such cases as assault, blackmail, insult, defamation and involuntary injury, if the issue is settled with the victim, there is no penalty due to the absence of arraignment. Therefore, if you think that the evidence against you is strong, you may covey your intention to reach settlement with the victim from the very beginning.
When an investigator calls you for the first time, he is not calling to ask you whether you actually committed the crime or not, he/she is simply calling to ask when it will be convenient for you to come for a questioning. Therefore you should reply according to your schedule, however it is advisable that you arrange a meeting within a week, so that the investigator has an impression of you being cooperative. However, if you cannot make it sooner, you should definitely explain the reason why and then you can ask to set a later date, around 2 weeks later or so.
- When the date of questioning is set.
When the date of suspect interrogation is set, it is time to think whether you want to hire a lawyer or you will go there alone.
1) If the crime is completely unrelated to you and there cannot be any evidence against you
In this case it does not matter if you go alone. However, if you are accompanied by a lawyer, you will, to some extent, be able to avoid being pressured by the investigator to confess to the crime. You can also go for questioning alone and if you see that the investigator has strong evidence against you, you can say that you would like to stop the process and come back at a later date with your lawyer.
2) If you did not commit the crime, but there is some evidence that may be misinterpreted adversely for you
You can still go to be questioned by the police alone, but it is advisable that you hire an attorney as soon as possible. By hiring a lawyer, you can give an impression of being well-prepared and you can also avoid being pressured by the investigator to confess to the crime.
3) If you did commit the crime
In this case most suspects are worrying about whether they should confess or deny the charge. If you find yourself in such a situation, you should seek professional legal help. In particular, you need a lawyer who understands well the correlation between Criminal and Immigration law. Most of the lawyers think that it will be enough if their client avoids jail time, they do not mention the fact that a probation or monetary penalty could lead to you getting a departure or deportation order from the Immigration office. Meanwhile, a foreigner that received a criminal penalty always undergoes a separate investigation carried out by the Immigration office. So you have to be explained what kinds of immigration related problems your criminal penalty may entail.
a) If you decided to confess to committing the crime
While it is not necessary for you to get a lawyer in this case, if you do get one, you may receive a less severe punishment later. It is especially important, considering that the severity of punishment influences what kinds of problems you will have later with the Immigration office, so if you are a foreigner who decided to confess to a crime, it is vitally important that you receive the minimum sentence possible.
b) If there are parts that you would like to deny
You have to hire a lawyer to accompany you during the interrogation and further investigation. Moreover, before the questioning you should meet with your lawyer 2-3 times to devise a defense strategy.
Thank you for staying with us, next time we will talk about the types of crimes that foreigners often get involved in and what measures can be taken in each case.