What Is a Criminal Defense Investigator?
A criminal defense investigator is a specialized professional who can be employed by people, institutions or NGOs to undertake investigative services. Private investigators also work as agents for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. Criminal defense attorneys undertake cases involving serious offenses like felonies, misdemeanors, crimes against society and public security. These offenses are tried before the judge and executed if the defendant is convicted. In some jurisdictions, a criminal defense attorney is called a criminal investigator.
A defense investigator may be employed by a lawyer to investigate a case. He can help his client gather crucial information to build a strong defense. The investigator may also help the defense to prepare its case by gathering information that will be used in the trial. The prosecutor can sometimes use the investigator as a witness in court, especially in cases involving murder, arson, drug trafficking, theft, sex crimes, kidnapping, abuse, etc. In some jurisdictions, defense investigators are also permitted to testify on behalf of their clients in criminal proceedings.
A criminal defense investigator requires education, training and experience. Generally, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree or higher and is familiar with the disciplines of chemistry, physics, computer science, biology, etc. His working experience can range from a couple of weeks on a summer internship to a year with an established firm. Some states do not require licensing or certification.
Experience is very important for a criminal defense investigator. He must be able to recall details about a crime scene, interview witnesses, collect documents and other material, determine a chain of custody and conduct a thorough investigation. A thorough investigator is one who is meticulous and thorough. He should have excellent computer skills because much of the investigation is done on computers. It is important for a criminal defense attorney to know all of these details.
Some other positions in the criminal justice field are private eye (one who investigates crimes for a law firm or government agency), corporate security officer (a high-level executive position in a company whose job it is to protect the business assets) and a private investigator (a person whose primary purpose is to gather evidence that will be used at trial). Private eye investigators may work for themselves, work for the government or for a law firm. Corporate security officers may be employed by large corporations or smaller firms. Corporate investigators (or “private investigators”) generally have a very large overhead and may need to rely upon a large amount of networking to get leads or information.
Investigators often interview potential clients, draw up documents, test clothing or borrow money to pay for depositions. They prepare exhibits (like the suspect’s wallet) and perform other tasks that help the defense build its case. Investigators may even travel to the location where the crime was committed to interview potential witnesses.
One of the greatest advantages of working as an investigator is that it allows you to build a client base. If you work for a defense law firm, your clients will be very aware of the services that you provide. Many of them will recommend you to friends or family, and they can often provide referrals to other attorneys and law firms as well. This type of word-of-mouth advertising is extremely important to any business, but especially to a criminal defense firm. Attorneys must always be networking to make sure that their business is growing and that their clientele is as well!
Working as a criminal investigator can be a great way to make a living if you are dedicated and focused. You must always be alert and on top of things to make sure that you do not miss any signals that a client may send. You will be spending a lot of time with the criminal defense attorney, so you must keep abreast of every step in the case. It is your responsibility to thoroughly check all documents and interview all witnesses, so that you do not miss any evidence that will prove to be essential in the case. In the end, if you take an active part in your career, then you will be satisfied with your career choice and will always be able to look back and smile with fond memories of your time spent as a criminal defense investigator.