How Can a Defense Investigator Help Me?
As a criminal defense attorney, one question I am frequently asked is “How can a defense investigator help me in my case?” This question is most often asked by clients who have hired an investigator and are dissatisfied with the results. The majority of attorneys will tell you that the final decision to let a case go or to proceed with trial is always made by the client and there is really nothing that the defense investigator can do. In other words, the investigator serves as the conduit between the defense and the prosecution.
The key role that the investigator fills is to review the case files and present them to the client for his consideration. Specifically, he needs to investigate and review all the possible witnesses and evidences that pertain to the crime that the client is charged with committing. He needs to know exactly what happened on the day in question and if there were any suspicious activities prior to the arrest of the client. If there is any evidence that would cast doubt on the guilt of the client, then the investigator needs to uncover it and present it to the client.
In addition to this, the defense investigator also reviews all the possible methods of plea bargaining that the client might be able to use to get a sentence that fits his plea agreement. As part of their job duties, they also interview prosecution witnesses, deal with the prosecuting attorneys and perform other duties necessary to ensure that the client’s case goes to trial. Finally, in some cases, the defense investigator may even negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. The ultimate aim of the investigator is to obtain all of the evidence and testimony that is required to prove the innocence of the defendant.
Clearly, obtaining the needed evidence is essential. This is the only way to have a reasonable chance of obtaining a conviction. Unfortunately, sometimes the evidence does not exist. Sometimes there is no actual physical evidence that a crime has occurred. In these instances, the investigator must apply their logical skills and knowledge to build a case based upon real evidence that is not necessarily available to the defense.
Defense investigators are frequently referred to as “pro bono” attorneys. In these types of cases, the attorney is considered to be acting in an extrajudicial capacity. For this reason, the attorney may not charge for time spent searching for potentially useful evidence. For example, they may comb through the offices of police departments or state police departments looking for potential evidence. Because they are considered an “emergency”, these cases generally result in a cash settlement for the client.
When choosing an investigator, the client should ask a number of questions to determine the suitability of the individual. Interviewing an investigator will not only provide the answers to these questions. It will provide insight into the investigator’s specific area of expertise. Additionally, the interviewing will demonstrate that the potential investigator has the skills and knowledge required to adequately protect the confidentiality of any information provided. A thorough background investigation will also reveal whether or not the potential investigator possesses the legal authority to pursue the case.
As an officer of the legal system, it is not the investigator’s responsibility to reveal any confidential information pertaining to the case. If there is a need to do so, then a warrant for arrest will be made out of court and disclosed. The decision as to whether or not to seek an arrest warrant must be made in a court of law. Even though most people think that any evidence discovered during a surveillance operation is admissible in a court of law, nothing can be farther from the truth. The reasoning behind this belief is that a defense investigator is never under oath while conducting surveillance and therefore cannot be expected to follow the same procedures as a sworn police officer would.
How can a defense investigator help me? If you are facing serious criminal charges, consulting with a professional defense investigator could mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a long sentence. This professional is knowledgeable in many areas of the law and will know what kind of options you have to get out of your predicament. If you have hired an investigator and he or she is not willing to discuss the case with you, it may be time to find another resource. These agents often work as part of a team and will often know of other resources to help you.