How Criminal Defense Investigators Help the Legal System
Criminal Defense Investigators are employed by the prosecuting attorneys in every state to investigate crimes and to build a case against the defendant. The primary function of the criminal defense attorney is to build a criminal defense case by investigating the crime, speaking with the defendant, examining the victim, gathering and evaluating evidence, and presenting the case to the judge and jury. The goal is not only to prove the defendant guilty but also to convince the jury or judge that the charge is justified. The prosecutor plays an important role in building the case by selecting a qualified attorney, marshaling evidence, finding witnesses, gathering and evaluating evidence, preparing for trial, cross-examining witnesses, and convincing the jury or judge that the charge is justified. The criminal defense attorney represents the client and ensures that the client receives the maximum compensation for their injuries.
Often referred to as “CSI’s”, criminal defense investigators are sworn to uphold the law and protect innocent people from prosecution. In order to do this, they must spend a great deal of time talking with the defendant, examining the scene of the crime, collecting evidence, and talking with potential jurors, witnesses, and other professionals. They obtain all of this information through meetings with the client, the police, prosecutors, and other law enforcement officials. Most criminal defense investigators have a thorough understanding of local, state, and federal laws. Because of this they are often called upon to make statements under oath, which can have legal implications should the statements become public or if they are recorded by law enforcement officials.
Criminal defense investigators are often called upon to interview witnesses, take pictures of the crime scene, collect any evidence, and collect any victim testimony. Because most witness testimonies are vital to a case, criminal defense investigators are sworn to confidentiality. Often, they are asked to take the victim and any witnesses on their case before the grand jury that is assigned to that case. They are also often asked to search for any additional evidence at the scene of the crime. Private investigators may also be asked to follow suspects after they leave the crime scene, follow return trips of criminals, and follow any vehicle that may be altered prior to being transported to and from the crime scene.
Private investigators often work alone, although sometimes they are assisted by other detectives. Sometimes, they are backed up by a team of detectives known as gang members, who may specialize in different areas of the crime. Most of these detectives belong to a specialized division of the police force, such as the FBI or the CIA. These agencies often have contracts with private investigators. Their job is to protect the interests of their agency, so most will not divulge any details of their investigations.
A criminal defense investigator has many specific responsibilities. Often, they interview potential jurors, speak with police detectives, gather any evidence, and follow many leads. Once all the facts are gathered and analyzed, they present their findings to the judge who decides if there is probable cause to issue a warrant for the arrest of a suspect. It is important for the criminal defense investigator to remain objective while following any leads. If they take sides or begin investigating too closely, they may jeopardize the case they have been hired to defend.
Many people are reluctant to hire a private investigator because they think they do not have enough experience in the criminal justice field. Some think they cannot be trusted with private information. This is not true. There are many former government employees, current government employees, law enforcement officers, corporate executives, corporate attorneys, media professionals, security professionals, private detectives, and social workers who have many years of experience with the various aspects of investigative techniques. Many private investigators specialize in one area of the law.
Many new witnesses are called to testify at criminal trials. Criminal defense investigators review police reports, investigate traffic violations, speak with potential witnesses, search for missing persons, look for signs of drug use or substance abuse, speak with businesses where products may have been purchased using credit cards, and interview individuals about their statements. They compile voluminous dossiers that include bank and financial records, prescription drugs, weapons found in the home, clothing and accessories that were taken from the person’s unlocked car trunk, and computer documents. In some cases, criminal defense investigators contact experts from the local law enforcement agencies to assess the potential evidence. These experts conduct their own investigation, collect information, and prepare a report for the attorney.
It is up to the police officers, state troopers, state sheriffs, private detectives, and court employees to investigate crimes. The responsibility of investigating crimes falls on them, not the defense attorneys. Private detectives and criminal defense investigators play an important role in ensuring the integrity of the legal system by providing unbiased information that can protect the interests of their clients.