What is a Criminal Defense Investigator?
A criminal defense investigator, a private investigator, or investigation agent, is someone who can be employed by people, firms or NGOs to undertake investigative duties. Private investigators also work for lawyers in criminal and civil cases. They are expected to have a minimum knowledge of the field, an ability to interact with a variety of people, and a skill to find relevant evidence. They should be highly organized, detailed oriented, good at collecting and sorting information, and understand the significance of confidentiality.
Private investigators normally conduct short initial interviews, which yield detailed information on the suspect. Based on the information obtained from the interview, they carry out further investigations. Investigation involves scrutinizing an individual’s personal and financial backgrounds. The goal of such investigations is to establish if there is any probable cause that the person is involved in criminal activities. For instance, criminal records check can be conducted if the police authorities want to hire someone to monitor the employees of a certain company to ensure compliance with labor laws.
These days, it is a widely known fact that many corporations, government agencies and private parties are conducting secret operations aimed at detecting and preventing criminal activity. There are different types of investigators available for this purpose. Many of them work independently while a few serve as private detectives for companies or as representatives of the law firm in charge of carrying out investigations. Regardless of how they work, all investigators have one common aim -to bring criminals to justice.
Today, it is widely accepted that technology has made every task easier and faster. In addition, computerized and Internet-based investigative tools are making the job much easier. These tools have dramatically improved the efficiency of law enforcement agencies in gathering and processing data related to criminal activity. Private investigators and computer forensic experts are now able to match a digital footprint that reveals the exact time and date when files were created or when they were modified.
What is a criminal investigator? According to the legal dictionary, an investigator is “a person whose professional duties are devoted to the investigation and identification of crimes, particularly crimes of a financial nature.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are approximately 3 million jobs related to criminal defense, including investigators, analysts and support staffs. These investigators are engaged in different aspects of the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases in court.
A criminal investigator may be employed by a defense lawyer who is handling a client’s case, in which case the investigator would act on the defense lawyer’s behalf. In other cases, an investigator may be a private individual who works independently. He may be hired by the defense lawyer or by the prosecuting attorney to conduct research and gather evidence for the prosecution’s case. He may also be a confidential informer, meaning he is hired to help gather information but is not supposed to tell anybody else about what he has learned.
Besides their role as counsel for clients in criminal cases, investigators have many other responsibilities. They assist police departments with the collection of evidence during raids and arrests, and they collect testimonies and statements from witnesses in court proceedings. They follow potential suspects and fugitives, and they interview witnesses and other people. They also inspect properties that could be used as accomplices in the commission of a crime, such as banks and apartment buildings. Finally, they follow up on people who disappear and report back to the police, and they serve as negotiators for the accused in trial.
Although investigators play an important role in the prosecution of criminal cases, they are not allowed to make any decisions on the basis of their findings. Their reports and findings must be supported by prosecutors, who may use them in court. In some states, the attorney defending a client may use the reports and investigations of an investigator to help prove the innocence of his client. The exact duties of an investigator in a criminal defense law firm, then, are largely up to state law. But most investigators are expected to perform their duties satisfactorily and to report accurately on all the facts of a case.