What Is a Criminal Defense Investigation?
If you have a loved one who is facing criminal charges or believe there may be a criminal case against a person you know or care about, it may be time to consider hiring the services of a Criminal Defense Investigator. Investigators come in many shapes and sizes to suit every client’s needs and budget. Some are on a part time basis while others work full-time. In this article I will discuss the differences between a Criminal Defense Investigator and a Police Detective.
Fact finders. Unlike police detectives, criminal defense investigators are fact finders. They collect information, organize that information, document that information and develop a fact-based case. Criminal Defense Investigators are specially trained in the Component Method of forensic investigation, the gold standard in criminal justice, to gather accurate, irrefutable evidence that can be presented in court.
Private investigators work independently. Unlike police officers, they have no supervisors, managers or union to negotiate pay and benefits. Consequently, many private investigators are willing to work for nothing but the fees. Compared to a civil lawyer, who is paid on a contingency fee basis, private investigators make considerably more, if not double, what a private defense attorney would charge.
Most criminal defense investigators start out as an individual detective. This means that one chooses his/her own clients and uses that information to build a profile of the client. Initial investigations tend to focus on specific areas of the suspect’s history such as financial crimes. Eventually, investigators expand their scope to include other areas of the suspect’s life.
Because private investigators have an outside perspective, their reports often take an in-depth approach to gathering evidence. Much of their work involves interviewing witnesses, law enforcement personnel and potential victims. They then compile this information into an extensive report that can be presented to a judge or jury. Much of the information provided by private investigators can be considered classified, so it’s critical that a defendant hire an investigator that adheres to a confidentiality agreement and will be willing to protect your rights.
Because many investigators begin their careers with law enforcement agencies, they build up a network of contacts that can provide invaluable references. Additionally, criminal defense investigators frequently speak with other law enforcement personnel. Through these relationships, an investigator can learn about any other sources of potential evidence against a client.
Criminal defense attorneys rely heavily on private investigators to conduct thorough investigations of potential cases. These investigations provide the legal groundwork for a strong defense, enabling them to build a strong case against the defendant. Attorneys are also able to review the findings of private investigations and obtain relevant evidence for their own cases. Because there are few restrictions on investigating in both areas, both sides benefit.
Private investigators have some of the best technology available. Many investigators utilize state of the art surveillance equipment such as video cameras and GPS trackers. Additionally, some investigators use sophisticated computer software to conduct examinations. The information that investigators recover from computer forensics can be used in court. A good forensic investigation results in an effective prosecution and an effective defense.
There are few major differences between the two types of investigations. While most people think private investigators take depositions and make physical scores, in truth, their investigation techniques are much more similar. Both types of investigation require a lot of hard work, a sense of urgency and a thorough knowledge of the person being investigated. However, a private investigator rarely has to make physical scores. Cases that involve homicide, manslaughter, sexual assault and other major felonies require a trained and equipped investigator to conduct a thorough investigation.
Private investigators are usually attached to a law firm or to a consulting firm. In many instances, the investigator is located in a different jurisdiction than the attorney. Attorneys are often wary of allowing an investigator to interview witnesses, particularly those that are closely related to the case. When a witness is called by a defense attorney to provide testimony in a court hearing, the attorney may not call the witness at all if he or she does not want to be on the hook for anything. Instead, the attorney relies on the investigator to produce the witness’s statements at a later time.
Private investigators also interview witnesses and collect information without the expense and effort of hiring a full-time staff. Additionally, some investigators work as independent contractors. They receive an hourly rate for each case they evaluate.
In cases involving criminal defense investigation, the investigators obtain transcripts and other transcripts from police reports. This evidence is used in court to provide evidence to the defense. The most important use for the transcripts and other police reports is to determine motive. Motivation can be determined by the presence or absence of an individual’s actions. If there are inconsistencies in the police report, the investigators can use the police report as evidence to contradict any statements provided by the prosecution.