Criminal Defense Investigators is basically private detectives who gather evidence and information for the defense on a criminal case. While the prosecution often has several investigators (e.g., police detectives, prosecution detectives, and forensic evidence collectors), many defendants gamble without ever hiring even one investigator to help them build their defense. It is widely believed that the overwhelming majority of crimes are committed by people that have neither employed nor are aware of such services. When criminals know they can get away with committing crimes–particularly crimes that carry long prison sentences–they will typically choose to commit those offenses rather than risk having to deal with the long duration of a trial. Additionally, defendants that do hire an investigator generally prefer to use one with whom they can communicate freely, allowing them to build a strong case against the defendant. Criminal Defense Investigators (CADs) provide an essential service in helping to protect our communities from criminals who would commit crimes in broad daylight, on public streets and highways, and near public facilities such as schools, businesses, and government buildings.
In order to build a strong case, criminal defense investigators gather a wealth of information. Among the information they review are police reports, medical records, blood samples, witness statements, and other important evidentiary materials. They also interview witnesses and review crime scene photographs. Sometimes they go undercover as telephone callers or as people who randomly stop by to observe a particular area. Ultimately, criminal defense investigators obtain overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources that are used in court.
The primary goal of a criminal defense investigator is to provide his or her client with all of the evidence necessary to secure a fair trial. As mentioned previously, most criminals do not hire an investigator to assist them. However, it is still sometimes possible to acquire some of the same information from “rogue” private investigators–although such witnesses are nearly always willing to speak to law enforcement officials. Therefore, if you have reason to suspect a criminal defense attorney of tampering with the evidence, your best bet is to fire him or her.
To some degree, there is a difference between private investigators and criminal defense investigators. Private investigators are generally more independent than criminal justice system agents. However, as the criminal justice system itself has evolved, so have private investigators’ capabilities.
Today private investigators carry out routine investigations that many attorneys consider routine. These investigations focus on large Federal crimes and white collar crimes such as tax evasion, bribery, embezzlement, conspiracy, solicitation, and fraud. Many attorneys believe that these investigations help put law officials “out of the loop” when it comes to crimes committed by their clients. This is because most criminal defense investigators now carry out sting operations that involve placing confidential information into the wrong hands, which they then use to prosecute attorneys for engaging in these types of activities. In addition, many private investigators often use newly developed surveillance technologies to obtain important evidence against their targets.
In contrast, criminal defense investigators are employed by law enforcement personnel for specific purposes. In many cases, such as witness interviews, victims’ statements, and fingerprint examinations, these investigators are drafted in by victims or their representatives to provide an objective, third-party opinion about a case’s strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, not all investigations conducted by criminal investigators are supervised by law enforcement personnel. Additionally, many victims of crime may feel reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement personnel and therefore will not provide detailed statements, much less any type of examination by forensic investigators.
Although the ultimate goal of criminal defense investigators is to provide an honest and clear picture of the crime to their clients, they must follow their duties in order to perform their job. Therefore, they must carefully examine all potential evidence. If it is discovered that a private investigator fails to examine a piece of evidence, even if it is later discovered that the witness’s statement refers to what occurred at another time and place, the attorney representing the client will likely be involved in filing a motion to suppress the evidence. If a law enforcement officer follows proper protocol and orders from a supervisor or an attorney, a district attorney will review the case and determine whether there was a violation of the protocol and whether criminal defense investigators violated the law by not obtaining the testimony of a particular witness needed to defeat a motion to suppress.
In most instances, when criminal defense investigators fail to obtain witness testimony, they simply do not file a motion to suppress because most witness testimony is generally considered hearsay. However, there are circumstances in which a private investigator must obtain direct testimony from a critical source, such as a victim or suspect who is being investigated for a crime. Such testimony is particularly valuable in cases involving violent crimes such as murders, sexual assaults, or child molestation. Therefore, if you have been arrested for a crime, and a private investigator obtains witness testimony contradicting your arrest, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney. Together you can determine if your rights were violated and if a suppression motion should be filed.