Criminal Defense Investigators are trained, tested, and knowledgeable professionals that gather evidence and information for the defense in any criminal case. While the prosecution typically has several investigators (including police officers, forensic scientists, district attorneys, and defense lawyers) on staff, many defendants gamble with the absence of even one investigator. Such defendants may not be aware of certain key elements of the professional law enforcement investigation. Here are some key areas to consider when retaining an investigator to perform investigative duties for you:
– Background and Experience. Look for criminal defense investigators with law enforcement or military experience. Specifically, you need to request information about their investigations of crimes similar to the one you’re involved in, including white collar crime, money laundering, etc. Additionally, you need an investigator with experience working with defense attorneys.
– Interviewing Potential Witnesses. Some criminal defense investigators specialize in interviewing potential witnesses. Other investigators frequently interview persons associated with the crime in question, such as employees of the crime scene, the victims, etc. While interviewing witnesses can provide valuable information, it is important to keep in mind that witnesses are often given false statements at some point in the process.
– Cross-examine any witnesses interviewed by the criminal defense investigators. It is important for an investigator to thoroughly examine any witness they interview. This includes whether the witness provided information that conflicts with what another person is telling the investigator, if the witness’s story is inconsistent with the physical facts the investigator has obtained from the scene or crime, if the witness refuses to tell the investigator anything, etc. While it is common for criminal defense attorneys to try to dig out lies from witnesses, it is usually not successful.
– Seeking the Best Treatment For a Case. When selecting a lawyer, a criminal defense investigator should also request that his/her attorney be given a thorough investigation into the case, including personal interviews of the clients and any witnesses. Attorneys who do not have a thorough investigation into their client’s cases are not very reliable. A good attorney will seek all available options to ensure that his client receives the best treatment possible.
– Obtaining Copies of Documents. It is also very important for a private investigator to obtain copies of any documents, videos, photographs, etc. They should be presented to the client for their inspection prior to any meetings. If the criminal defense investigators suspect that a witness may be tampering with one of the documents, they should also ask the person to provide them with a written affidavit. The sworn statement will often hold even more weight than the other portions of the investigation.
– Dealing With Local Prosecutors. Even though most criminal defense investigators deal with state prosecutors, it is still very important that they keep in touch with local prosecutors as well. Some state prosecutors will not work with private investigators, so it is important for attorneys to find out ahead of time if they will or not allow the investigators to contact them. Many defense attorneys also have relationships with the state prosecutor’s office and it can sometimes be easier to get a meeting arranged between the two sides if the local prosecutors know of the private investigators plans.
In short, private investigators play an important role in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong for the investigators that they are investigating. Sometimes witnesses become angry with the investigator and refuse to speak with the investigators. However, if proper procedures are used, the investigation can often uncover many unethical tactics by the defendants or the lawyers.