Criminal Defense Investigators
Today, DIA serves both Public Defender and criminal defense investigators. The Association was established to: Offer training and certification opportunities for criminal defense attorneys; Provide educational opportunities to assist individuals to become effective investigators; and provide a forum for criminal defense attorneys to exchange ideas and information. All criminal defense attorneys and investigators must complete a state-mandated training and certification program before they are allowed to work as an intern in the Department of Justice Criminal Justice Intrusion Analysis unit. Internship programs are not federally funded, but are supported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) grants hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal property grants each year to qualified applicants who agree to spend two years inside the FBI’s fingerprinting unit.
As you may imagine, being a “part-time” employee with the FBI can be a very enriching experience for many career criminal defense investigators and attorneys. To become a full-fledged criminal investigator and legal representative, however, an individual must graduate from a law enforcement academy, pass the state bar exam, and obtain professional certification from the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI). NALI is the only national professional organization that accredits legal investigators.
Criminal investigators are often referred to as “wire agents” or “cia agents”. They conduct surveillance and gather evidence on a person, an area, or a crime. They collect evidence using a number of methods including the following: interviewing witnesses, spying on locations, examining luggage and vehicles, and following a suspect for hours. Unlike police officers, criminal justice investigators do not need to follow a suspect beyond the line of sight, they do not have to write a warrant, and they are not required to arrest or search to gather evidence. Instead, their goal is to observe and collect evidence that will support a motion to suppress based on the state of their case.
Private investigators (PI) are employed by defense firms, corporate and government clients, and law enforcement agencies. They are proficient in all areas of investigation, surveillance, research, and even witness testimony. In other words, they can interview, observe, interrogate, and test any person, document any event, and present any findings in a legally appropriate manner. Private investigators (PI) are highly trained professionals who thoroughly understand how to gather evidence and use it in court. They use all tools of technology to conduct their investigations, such as GPS vehicle tracking, surveillance camera systems, computers, cell phones, and secret cameras.
One of the most important tasks of criminal defense investigators is cross-examinating a witness at trial. Cross-examining a witness is an essential part of presenting your case in front of a judge and jury. Criminal investigators will interview a witness numerous times in order to obtain accurate, unbiased information that supports your position. This information can be used against you during a court proceeding, if you make an incorrect decision based on their answers. Witness testimony is one of the most critical parts of any criminal case, and investigators listen with the utmost attention to ensure that the witness is not planting false information for their own sake.
The “Prelate” or chain of evidence, consists of key individuals, dates, and locations where the evidence is collected. Prosecution witnesses frequently use the “chain of custody” to prove their case. The “chain of evidence” is usually broken down into three different categories: crime scene, crime victim, and criminal defense investigator. Crime scene investigators collect samples of blood, fibers, and bullet shells from the scene of the crime. Crime victim investigators collect physical evidence from the victim, such as clothing and accessories, and hair analysis from hair samples.
The “CADI” certification is another way to categorize criminal defense investigators. The CADI designation stands for Certified Detailed Investigator; this certification is achieved by passing a rigorous professional standards examination that tests an individual’s analytical and investigative skills. The CADI designation requires completion of a two-year training program that includes both classroom instruction and on-the-job experience.
Often times during an investigation, a defense investigator may review police reports and other documentation which may seem unrelated to the case. However, the key witness will be able to provide valuable insight into a case by providing new evidence or testimony which alters the evidence or testimony that the prosecution has presented at trial. It is up to the investigator to assess the relevance and weight of each piece of evidence. Criminal investigators are an integral part of all proceedings in any criminal case, and their testimony can make a significant difference in a defendant’s sentence. Criminal justice professionals must be thoroughly trained in the law and methods of evidence collection and analysis.