Criminal defense investigators literally play a vital role in an efficient criminal defense effort. When an attorney is able to dedicate the majority of their time to building and assembling a strong case, and is able to outsource the heavy footwork to an experienced, trusted private investigator, the chances of doing right by their client and obtaining the best possible outcome are greatly increased. The majority of attorneys agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Having an experienced investigator on retainer gives an attorney the ability to more adequately focus their limited resources on building their defense against serious charges.
Private investigators have a myriad of skills and talents. Their goal is to gather evidence and present it in a legal manner in order to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients. Criminal defense investigators possess years of experience in a wide variety of specializations such as computer forensics, white collar crime, corporate security, civil litigation, and more. With specialized training and certifications, criminal defense investigators are frequently referred to as “CSI’s” or “CSI Certified Investigators”. By developing trust and establishing an excellent rapport with their clients, criminal defense attorneys are able to better explain their cases to the defense attorneys.
In most cases, criminal defense investigators will not contact the actual individual charged with the criminal offense. Instead, they will work in conjunction with a nationwide network of expert witnesses and prosecutors in order to build a strong defense against their client. In many instances, these investigators will act as “fact witnesses” by delivering critical testimony regarding the presence or absence of factual evidence that will assist the defense in their effort to win the case. Many times, criminal defense attorneys will rely on their investigation and evidence gathering skills rather than bringing in a fact witness to provide testimony regarding a specific detail of the case.
Often times, criminal defense investigators find themselves spending large amounts of time at the crime scenes of high profile criminal cases. Due to the sensitive nature of these cases, it is often not possible for local law enforcement to investigate all potential crime scenes. The vast resources of a private investigator to allow them to conduct a thorough investigation of any crime scene. In many instances, a private investigator will have the forensics expertise to determine the exact time frame in which the crime occurred.
Private investigators often serve as a liaison between the police and the criminal defense investigators. Often times, they make it a point to personally interview all witnesses and offer their opinion regarding the credibility of their testimony. In some instances, they will be asked to review the surveillance videotape in order to better assess the guilt or innocence of a particular suspect. They will also frequently interview potential witnesses concerning any discrepancies in their stories. As part of their overall testimony, criminal defense investigators will often provide information and resources that would not normally be revealed to the public.
Private investigators are usually employed by law enforcement personnel in their agencies or in specialized firms. The majority of law enforcement personnel do not utilize the services of criminal defense investigators. However, many state and local law enforcement personnel have begun hiring private investigators in response to an increase in criminal cases being solved through the forensic process. These officers prefer not to interview potential witnesses in a criminal case unless absolutely necessary. Additionally, most state and local law enforcement personnel retain the services of a private investigator on a temporary basis only, usually for a short period of time. Most law enforcement personnel feel that hiring a private investigator is more cost effective than hiring additional members to their criminal investigative team.
Most private investigators charge a percentage, if not a flat fee, for their services. Some law enforcement personnel choose to retain an investigator on a full-time contract. Many people who engage in the innocence project choose to work exclusively for one company for several years in order to maximize their profits. However, the majority of private investigators work on a contingency basis, meaning that they only receive payment when they successfully complete the job.
The majority of crimes resolve through the use of the forensic process. It is unfortunate that there are a few individuals who choose to commit crimes in order to steal, lie, mislead, and cause misery to others. If you are faced with choosing between working with a private investigator to solve your criminal case or facing criminal charges of your own, it is important to consider all of your options. Your decision will likely influence the outcome of your criminal case and ultimately the outcome of your life.