Criminal Defense Investigators is specially trained professionals that gather evidence and information for your defense. They follow-up on your behalf and do a thorough investigation of any criminal case, no matter how small. Unlike the prosecution, criminal defense investigators are not on hand all the time, but only at important times. They are typically on call for weeks at a time. While the prosecutor has several investigators (e.g., police officers, detectives, court reporters), most criminal defendants gamble with no hire even one private investigator. Your case will go to trial with or without the services of an investigator.
The majority of criminal defense investigators are experienced interviewers. They use specialized training techniques to acquire important information from witnesses. They can determine if a potential witness is truthful and accurate. They can match specific details to witness testimony and determine if there are inconsistencies in the witness’s stories. Criminal defense attorneys frequently interview witnesses after arrests and during discovery, when they are able to review the documentation.
Criminal defense investigators follow-up on victim testimony. They often interview the victim immediately following the crime, while he or she is still at the hospital. During this interview, they ask questions about the crime scene and about the victim’s recovery. After interviewing the victim, investigators talk to any other witnesses that the client needs to speak to. The purpose of this interview is to corroborate witness testimony and to obtain additional facts that will help the attorney build his or her case. This process often provides important new information about the crime and often will help the client avoid being convicted based on inaccurate or incomplete information provided by law enforcement personnel.
Private investigators are often employed by the FBI or other federal law enforcement personnel. While the vast majority of private investigators are former officers of law enforcement, there are an increasing number of private investigators who are former civilians. There is a vast difference between an investigative private and a criminal defense investigator. An investigative private detective works exclusively for a client in the interest of providing facts that will help their case; while a criminal defense attorney is actively involved in the case in an advisory capacity.
Unlike public defenders, criminal defense attorneys do not make a financial decision based on whether or not to represent a client. They decide on an hourly rate based on the time spent searching for evidence and speaking with witnesses. In most states, state law requires that criminal defense attorneys be fingerprinted and receive a background check. Public defenders must rely on a non-profit organization called the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) to perform these checks.
When criminal defense investigators to interview potential witnesses, they ask questions about specific incidents. They learn about the circumstances surrounding the event and what anyone said during this time. Interviewing a witness isn’t the only part of a witness interview. The investigator also seeks information from the witness regarding the crime and possible time frame or sequence of events that led up to the incident.
A good criminal defense investigator has extensive experience and is aware of how the system works. These investigators gather information but don’t necessarily interview the witness. Instead, the investigator goes over the witness’ statements with the attorney. If the attorney is not satisfied with the witness’s version of events, the investigator asks questions. Most experienced investigators are prepared to take a client’s word over another’s when it comes to statements made at criminal trials.
The investigator assigned to a criminal defense investigation will meet with their client to review all available evidence and testimony to determine whether or not the client is considered a danger or a threat to the prosecution. There are many factors that will be considered in making this determination. The CDI designation is only one such factor. For more detailed information about the importance of a CDI designation, see below.