INVESTIGATION. This stage occurs before someone is formally charged and/or arrested for a crime. Typically it means that the police are asking questions, but beware - there are times when other individuals might ask questions as well. For instance, in shoplifting cases, a store employee will often stop and detain someone, accuse them of the crime, ask them questions, search through their bags and even ask them to sigh a confession. Because the store employee does not work for the State, they can do this without advising you of your constitutional rights. In other cases, you might be questioned by investigators working for the Prosecutor’s office, by social workers, or by caseworkers with the Department of Child Services. The investigation stage of a case can last a matter of minutes, hours, days, months, and in some cases even years. The only limit on how long the State can continue investigating is something called the “statute of limitations”, that requires the State to charge you within a certain number of years after a crime has happened. This statute of limitations varies with different types of cases, and can be anywhere between 1 year and forever.