Criminal Defense Investigators is specialized professionals that gather evidence and information for a defense in any criminal case. Unlike most attorneys, criminal defense attorneys do not typically hire private investigators. They generally rely on court reporters to make notes, call witnesses, and perform other preparatory tasks for their defense strategy meetings and depositions. While most criminal defense attorneys have at least one investigators on staff, many defendants gamble with no hiring even one. Criminal defense attorneys depend on investigators to provide the critical witnesses, information, and analysis they need to build the best defense case possible.
Contrary to popular belief, criminal defense investigators are not law enforcement officials. Their job is much different than law enforcement officials. Unlike police officers and prosecutors, they do not make arrests, but follow leads provided by a client and collect evidence and other information. Unlike prosecutors, they do not make an arrest, but instead determine if a case should proceed to trial or be dismissed. Most importantly, unlike a prosecutor, they do not make recommendations regarding charges, offer statements, or even discuss cases with potential clients.
Private investigators are paid to obtain personal information about a defendant. This information includes all of the tangible items found during a criminal defense investigation such as computers, cell phones, financial records, letters, receipts, bills, etc. In some instances, private investigators may also interview people whom the defendant intends to deny having met or communicated with. For example, if a defendant is accusing another person of rape, but maintains he only met with “a friend,” the investigator will follow the evidence to wherever it leads i.e., the friend’s house. Once there, the investigator collects information and uses it to defend the defendant.
In contrast to police officers and prosecutors, law enforcement investigators to perform their duties in an ethical and professional manner. They investigate crimes and present their findings before either prosecuting the suspect or having the case dismissed. In essence, they are the equivalent of private detectives except that they are employed by the government. Like private detectives, they are required to obtain court permission in order to search the property of a suspected party. However, unlike private detectives, they are not permitted to use any electronic or physical surveillance devices unless they have prior authorization from the warrants officer.
As compared to police detectives, many investigators focus on more complex crimes such as white collar crimes such as embezzlement, fraud, or murder. Some investigators specialize in solving white collar crime such as embezzlement, insider trading, and murder. There are also forensic and white collar criminal defense investigators who investigate homicide, child pornography, sex crimes, and much more.
The goal of most investigators is to provide their clients with accurate and thorough evidence in order to secure a favorable outcome for their client. If an attorney does not do this for his/her client, then it is unlikely that the client will receive the outcome that they would like. In addition, criminal defense investigators undergo extensive training so that they know how to assess the situation and present their findings to their clients in the best way possible. Attorneys who are not familiar with these types of cases are often not able to present their findings in an effective manner.
An experienced criminal defense investigator knows how to look at all of the facts that are presented by the prosecution witnesses and determine if their evidence will be enough to get the case dismissed or not. Often, an investigator will interview the prosecuting officers and witness in the case in order to learn more about the suspect. Together they will examine the scene of the incident and collect any potential evidence. Then they will take all this information and put together a strong case against their client.
The majority of investigators start out by becoming a private detective for a law firm or government agency. However, many private investigators choose to work on cases independently from any other source and work exclusively for their clients. Regardless of where they choose to start, investigators always make sure to conduct a thorough criminal defense investigation before making any recommendations to their clients. Many investigators are even careful to look at each case in detail before presenting any opinions. After all, the client needs to be able to trust the opinions that are offered to them.