What is a criminal defense investigator? A private investigator, a security officer, a personal investigator or investigation agent, is someone who may be employed by people, companies or NGOs to undertake investigative duties. Private detectives are often employed by lawyers in criminal and civil cases. Many private investigators work on personal cases such as investigating a cheating spouse or a troubled teen. Others may work on corporate or government investigations.
Investigators may work in private investigation agencies and cover corporations and their officers and employees. They may also work for the government in national security matters. A large number of private investigators are former military or CIA personnel who gained thorough knowledge on how the US government operates and oversees its activities. These agents, who have extensive experience in counter intelligence, surveillance and high level political protection, know how to move around government channels to get the compromising information they require.
Private investigators specialize in several areas of investigation. They may be involved in corporate security and investigations on employees of defense contractors. They investigate financial crimes, bank frauds, embezzlements and thievery. Military investigators may be deployed for the war on terror, including Osama bin Laden, as well as other national security issues.
The term “private detective” is a popular misnomer because there are actually a number of types of investigators. There is the traditional “private eye” who investigates criminals using his/her keen eyesight and knowledge of how the system works. This type of investigator can work independently or as an integral part of a team of professionals in a law firm, police department, IRS, FBI or other associated agency. He/She may follow a lead as it comes in and compile enough evidence to present it in court. The goal is not to bring a defendant to justice, but rather present the evidence necessary to obtain a judgment in a criminal proceeding. Other types of investigators focus on providing investigative support to law enforcement agencies.
When considering what is a criminal defense investigator, keep in mind the different specializations within this field. The most common is the private eye, although this type of investigator may also specialize in subcategories. Some other specializations include corporate security officers, corporate investigators, forensic scientists, computer crime investigators, homeland security analysts, and forensic accountants. A criminal defense investigator can obtain a law license by fulfilling a lengthy application process. Many states also do not require a law license but instead require certification, which must be renewed every two years.
Most private investigators are employed by law firms or law offices. Their job responsibilities typically involve a wide range of core functions such as gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, tracking down suspects and gathering witnesses’ testimony. Sometimes they are asked to review surveillance videotape or computer data. They may also be asked to mediate between opposing lawyers or detectives. In some cases, an investigator will collaborate with a prosecutor to obtain the biggest guilty plea. A conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor can have serious consequences, so it is important for an investigator to put his or her best foot forward.
What is a criminal defense investigator does not necessarily have to involve crime scene investigation, although this aspect of their work may lend itself to specialization. For example, corporate security officers review video footage from around the office to prevent theft or damage to company property. Forensic accountants analyze financial records and collect testimony from witnesses. Computer crime investigators recover digital evidence to prosecute criminal hackers.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of specializations within what is a criminal defense investigator. It is important that an investigator fully understand the specific area of responsibility that they have before entering into this field. The more education and experience an investigator has obtained, the more likely it is that they will have success in this competitive field.