Criminal defense investigators are employed by the criminal defense lawyers to conduct investigations regarding criminal activity, particularly crimes that are committed in a jurisdiction other than where the lawyer practices. These investigators follow leads generated by the lawyers and present this evidence to the defense as part of their client’s defense. Criminal defense investigators may follow up on tips from the police department and other law enforcement officials. Additionally, they may speak with witnesses and obtain statements or other information through sources close to the subject of the investigation.
The primary objective of a criminal defense lawyer is to secure an acquittal for their client and make sure they get a fair trial, whatever the charges against them. Their investigators dig up all key aspects of the case, seeking out corroborating evidence which can be highly exculpatory for the defender. This includes investigating a crime scene, collecting statements from witnesses, speaking with law enforcement officials and checking with a background check service. Criminal defense investigators are specially trained not only to assess whether there is probable cause to suspect a defendant of a certain crime, but also to uncover any discrepancies that might exist in the law. Their reports are detailed and must be impeccable, as they are entrusted with the responsibility of proving their client’s innocence.
Criminal defense investigators need to gather a wide variety of evidence in order to provide effective legal counsel to their clients. For instance, they will review surveillance videotape or interviews with a defendant taken at different times and locations. They must also interview any potential witnesses, even if they are not required to take a sworn oath of confidentiality. The investigators follow up with a number of techniques, such as interviewing the subject directly, interviewing another person who is familiar with the subject and reviewing police reports, fingerprint samples and any other paperwork relating to the case.
One of the most important tasks for criminal defense investigators is developing a timeline of events, interviewing witnesses and gathering necessary evidence. One of the greatest challenges facing them is determining when a crime was committed and how the crime was committed. Some crimes such as arson may have multiple suspects and times of day that events took place. Often criminal detectives are called in by police detectives to determine which suspects were involved in the commission of the crime.
Another key role for criminal justice system investigators is assembling witnesses. witnesses play a crucial role in the criminal justice system and are especially important in cases involving sexual assault, battered women and domestic violence. A skilled and successful private investigator will have no problem building a team of witnesses who will provide a complete and accurate account of an event. Because private investigators are paid only for the work they perform, the more detailed and substantial the information provided, the greater the fee.
The vast amount of paperwork that needs to be compiled for a case also makes the job of criminal defense investigators much more challenging than the average citizen. investigative files contain millions of documents and often require an expert investigator to organize and file them properly. Many reports require a three year study of each document. It is not uncommon for investigators to retain one or more lawyers to review all of this documentation and produce a professional opinion. There are many differences between how forensic experts conduct investigations and how criminal defense experts do them.
Private investigators and criminal defense investigators can build strong alliances with prosecutors. Many cases result in plea agreements in which the defendant or his or her lawyer agree to a sentence in exchange for the testimony of an investigator. In other cases, the defendant and his or her attorney negotiate a deal where the defendant cooperates fully with the prosecution without providing any information. Regardless, of whether the information is used at trial or is otherwise later used in the case, an investigator’s testimony often plays a critical role in reducing a sentence.
Private investigators and criminal defense investigators often work in tandem with other law enforcement investigators. Together they compile a large pool of data that is examined thoroughly during a time-consuming investigation. This information often includes hundreds, if not thousands, of reports from law enforcement agencies across the country. Most reports focus on crimes committed in the local jurisdiction in which the investigator works. However, national crime figures and intelligence from foreign law enforcement agencies often receive attention as well.