Criminal defense investigators investigate cases from various angles, including intelligence gathered through surveillance. They are also responsible for tracking down witnesses and investigating the crime scene and performing other duties as assigned. Most investigators begin their careers in the field by working as private detectives or detail agents for law enforcement agencies. The most recent statistics show that a large portion of criminal defense cases are solved with the aid of private investigators.
Criminal defense investigators have varying degrees of responsibility based upon which agency they work for. For example, they may be required to perform “cell phone forensic” investigations where they track the call records of a cellular device used by a suspect in an investigation. Sometimes they are additionally called in to serve as “re-trackers” who locate old or abandoned telephone records to aid in a prosecution of a suspect.
Investigators report their findings directly to attorneys. These attorneys then take the reports and present them to the judge for sentencing. Defense attorneys use these reports and statements in court to build a strong defense for their clients. Attorneys sometimes find it advantageous to hire private investigators to conduct depositions or interviews instead of using court officers to conduct the interviewing process.
Investigators often work directly for law enforcement agencies, such as sheriff’s offices, or federal agencies. Occasionally they may also work for private investigators. In most cases, criminal defense investigators report to an office manager or supervisor. This supervisor or manager is generally responsible for approving the employment of investigators and for overseeing their conduct. The supervisor may request further information on a case, or even direct an investigator in certain ways.
The majority of criminal defense investigators start out working independently. As their career progresses, many investigators decide to become involved in cases with law enforcement agencies and become certified. Once certification has been achieved, the individual will be able to move into his/her own private practice.
Some investigators specialize in one specific area. These specialized investigators are often referred to as special investigators. For example, forensic investigators may specialize in uncovering crimes that occurred in state or federal buildings. Some attorneys specialize in dealing with juvenile delinquency. Specialty areas often span across various areas of law.
All criminal defense attorneys to retain the services of investigators. Attorneys hire private detectives and obtain the private information on a case. Once the information is obtained the investigators then conduct interviews and begin to investigate the case. Depending on the nature of the case, they may not contact persons closest to the subject of the criminal investigation. They may call business or home telephone numbers, or obtain telephone transcripts.
Investigators listen to the recorded conversations between criminal defendants and their attorneys. They review the recorded conversations to make sure the information being provided by the defendant is accurate and honest. Criminal defense attorneys may use the recorded conversations to construct their defense. Sometimes the criminal defense attorney may present the evidence at trial without consulting an investigator. If a criminal defense lawyer obtains the services of an investigator, it can help their client defeat the prosecution.
Investigators are responsible for interviewing witnesses, suspects, police, and other individuals associated with the criminal cases handled. Their reports are often written after interviewing the subject. The investigator gathers a large amount of data and takes time to analyze the data. This analysis is important to the criminal lawyers. They must be able to find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to help their clients defeat the charges.
Sometimes an investigator will work one case and leave another. In this case the individual assigned to one case will handle all the cases handled by them. Many investigators specialize in investigating crimes involving violent crimes. For example they may specialize in investigating murders, rapes, thefts, and other violent crimes. Sometimes the investigators choose to specialize in one specific type of crime such as drug-related offenses.
Many defense attorneys do not trust private investigators to accurately present the facts of their cases. When a defense attorney uses an investigator it is almost always to get more witnesses interviewed. Testimony from witnesses is what criminal attorneys are most concerned about. The testimony from the witness will help their clients defeat the prosecution.
It is important to remember that investigators are not crime scene technicians. The way their investigation is done will have an effect on how their cases are handled. Defense attorneys should give their permission for an investigator to handle their cases and gather evidence. Often a criminal defense attorney will use an investigator instead of hiring a full time private investigator. This allows the attorney more time to build their case.