The Role of Private Investigators in the Criminal Case Process
Criminal Defense Investigators is professional investigators who gather evidence and information for a defense attorney’s office. They are highly skilled investigators that know how to interview witnesses, collect evidence, and determine if crimes have been committed. This type of investigator is an asset to any criminal lawyer. An investigator that accurately diagnoses the suspect may prove to be the determining factor in the case outcome.
While criminal defense investigators are thorough and meticulous, they also have a way of being unconventional. Most investigators start out working independently, gathering evidence and information through any means available. After proving themselves to be dependable sources of evidence, criminal defense attorneys may offer them positions within their firm or allow them to work for free. The latter scenario is favored by most investigators because it allows them to build a network of potential sources that they can turn to when the need arises. Most people that have become successful investigative professionals began their careers working independently before becoming an agent for a law firm.
Private investigators are often hired by a law firm to help gather evidence against their clients. Because private investigators work for only one law firm at a time, they have to be extremely reliable. They often begin their careers working directly for a firm as a secretarial duty and then gradually advancing up the ladder as the job responsibilities grow. Since they conduct their investigations in an extremely covert manner, it is important that criminal defense investigators maintain secrecy.
Because private investigators are hired to review evidence and documents in order to build a strong case against their clients, they do not always follow the law. Some states have strict rules for hiring employees such as ensuring that the personal information provided by the suspect is accurate and providing a receipt for all documents used in the case. The receipt is required so that a criminal defense investigator can keep track of the documents used in the investigation. Unfortunately, many state constitutions have no rules governing the conduct of private investigators and they are left to their own devices. Since many states do not have laws regarding the use of deception in their Constitutions, this becomes a huge problem for private investigators.
Because investigators obtain physical evidence through numerous methods, it is necessary that they follow federal and state laws to ensure that they are acting in accordance with their knowledge and skills. Federal enforcement agencies will require criminal defense investigators to inform them immediately if they find anything that would help in their investigation. If they are caught violating a state’s statute, it can be very costly for the attorney to have to go back and redo the warrant in question or charge the person again. Additionally, most enforcement agencies will require a witness to validate the physical evidence obtained which means that the attorney may be required to come back and re-testify, all of which can be very time consuming.
Unlike law enforcement, many prosecutors are not overly concerned with preserving evidence. Often times, they will present the defendant with the evidence voluntarily without having to worry about being forced to testify. However, it is important that criminal defense investigators take the extra step to preserve any physical evidence. This could mean preserving all copies of reports, interviewing witnesses again, or making copies of any phone transcripts. Any evidence found from expert witnesses should also be retained by the investigator.
Sometimes a private investigator might not have enough information to present to a judge when a case goes to trial. This is often the case when the criminal defense investigators work on a contingency fee basis. In many states, this means that the fees will be shared between the prosecutor and the private investigators. Some states also allow private detectives to present expert witness arguments at trials. However, some of these opinions must be supported with physical evidence such as expert witness testimonies.
Private investigators may also choose not to work on a contingency fee basis if they feel that the prosecution has not met their burden of proof. In these cases, the private detectives will hire a former prosecutor to mount a prosecution against the suspect. It is up to the prosecutors, whether or not they will accept this arrangement. Many state constitutions explicitly allow for the freedom of criminal defense investigators and other law enforcement investigators to perform additional investigations after a conviction has been found by the jury.