Criminal Defense Investigators and Their Role in Law Enforcement
A career as a criminal defense investigator offers an exciting, challenging, and rewarding profession. The goal of a criminal defense attorney is to effectively defend their client and get them a fair and favorable trial. Their investigators investigate all key facets of the case, seeking out critical details that can be detrimental to the accused, especially in the event the suspect takes a plea bargain. Their reports are submitted to their clients for evaluation and possible action. Because their work involves gathering evidence and evaluating the evidence, they must be meticulous in their method of presentation.
Some criminal defense investigators start their careers with police work. These police officers often use the same police tactics used by their own agency in pursuing suspects. In other cases, local law enforcement personnel may not have the experience or resources to pursue a complex case such as a drug possession charge. For these cases, local law enforcement personnel may appoint private investigators to follow the suspect or subject, which requires additional funding and time commitment, but can yield significant information in a shorter period of time.
Many state and local police departments contract with private investigators to conduct discreet surveillance on criminal defense investigators. The goal is to obtain crucial evidence that can be presented in court. This type of surveillance involves placing a camera on a tripod in a public place, or on a person, and recording any conversation or activity that occurs around the subject. The recorded evidence is then transcribed and analyzed by the private investigator.
Often, private investigators are called upon by defense attorneys to interview witnesses. Interviewing witnesses is an essential step in building a strong defense case because it allows the criminal defense investigators to get close to the witnesses and the key players. By closely following the critical testimony of witnesses, the investigator will build a strong case for his client by obtaining vital information that the jury will consider at trial. Moreover, by interviewing many witnesses, the investigator builds stronger ties to several key individuals that will provide additional intelligence for his case.
Often criminal defense attorneys are not comfortable with interviewing state witnesses. Some state witnesses do not wish to speak with investigators and often prefer to be retained by the defendant. However, many state witnesses actually prefer to be interviewed by private investigators because they feel more comfortable dealing with private individuals. Moreover, some state witnesses have personal reasons for refusing to speak with law enforcement officials. In most cases, a witness’s unwillingness to speak with law enforcement officials can be used against him at trial.
Most state and local law enforcement officials retain criminal defense investigators that are specifically designated to follow up on witness calls. Once the investigator has been hired, he/she will generally work alone. Therefore, the criminal defense attorney will not have to worry about being “tricked” by any unidentified person who wants to obtain secret information from the witness. Private detectives are well-trained to identify any attempts to obtain confidential information from a witness and will carefully document any such attempts.
Sometimes victims and witnesses fear speaking to the police. Therefore, criminal defense investigators will often interview the victim or witness in private. This helps the criminal defense attorney develop a rapport with the individual and, in many instances, may prevent the victim from providing damaging information against his/her client. Additionally, private detectives help the attorney build a strong case by locating, collecting and preparing crucial information that is used during the trial.
Private investigators are often extremely beneficial to law enforcement agencies when it comes to investigating a crime. When hiring a private investigator to help you with your case, be sure you check out references and ask for recommendations. Be sure to ask why the private investigator was hired, what type of experience they had and how long they have been working in this area of law enforcement. A good private investigator will be able to discuss many areas of law enforcement and offer valuable insight into what steps need to be taken next in your particular case.