Criminal Defense Investigators is investigative professionals who gather evidence and facts for the defense in any criminal case. While the prosecuting authorities have several investigators (e.g., police officers, detectives, court reporters, and prosecutors) on staff, many defendants gamble with few or no detectives on their case. This allows the prosecutor to focus the bulk of resources (both human and financial) to investigate crimes that occur outside the jurisdiction of the jurisdiction in which the defendant is tried. Criminal defense lawyers rely on witnesses to corroborate their client’s statements. They use recorded conversations, surveillance tapes, and handwriting analysis to build a case. Criminal defense investigators use forensic evidences to build their cases by utilizing technology, such as DNA testing and complex computer databases.
As you can see from the overview above, criminal defense investigators are integral to the legal process. However, how do we identify a competent professional? There are many ways to do it. Here are three keys to look for when evaluating potential criminal defense investigators:
* Consider the field of specialized experience. Most law enforcement officers possess all of the skills and education required for performing this investigative function. However, this is not the norm for all law enforcement officers. Not all officers have the intelligence and attention to detail needed for this type of specialized work. If you’re interviewing prospective criminal defense investigators, take time to ask about their specialized training and experience.
* Ask about attorney referrals. Criminal defense investigators thoroughly interview witnesses, interview suspects, collect evidence, and perform other duties as part of their job. Many defense lawyers depend upon the testimony of their investigator to build their case. If your attorney is not using an investigator to build a strong case, consider hiring one to help build your case.
* Ask about former clients. When evaluating potential criminal defense investigators, ask if they have any former clients that are working with them currently. Referrals from current law enforcement personnel and prosecutors are invaluable. This information can give you a very good indication of whether or not your attorney is receiving the best service possible.
* Ask about former employers. Criminal defense and private investigators commonly work with law enforcement officers, including the sheriff’s department, police departments, and other law enforcement personnel. Working with law enforcement often provides an opportunity to develop close relationships. This can be extremely beneficial in developing a strong case. Often, law enforcement investigators receive a bonus for finding a suspect, which could help offset the cost of hiring the firm.
* Ask about potential mentors. Criminal defense investigators typically start out by working for a prosecutor. The more prestigious agencies will provide good attorneys to assist you. If you do not have a connection within the prosecution, you may find yourself searching for an investigator who can break the story from scratch. Some investigators prefer to start as an assistant to a prosecutor before making the jump to a full-time position.
While some state criminal defense investigators are not nationally recognized private investigators, many are highly sought after by defense attorneys throughout the nation. If you are looking for a trustworthy, honest, and quality investigator to handle your case, you may want to consider hiring a nationwide recognized private investigator to handle your case. Hiring an investigator with a national reputation can help ensure your attorney gets the best service possible.
* Ask about the cost. Depending on the jurisdiction, the cost of hiring a private investigator may vary. In large metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, New York, and Houston, the hourly rate may be as much as two or three times the price of smaller towns with less traffic. In other cases, the charges may be similar. Because of this, it is crucial that you ask the potential private investigators about their fees upfront. The more information you can gather upfront, the better prepared you will be for any inevitable questions you will have once the investigation is complete.
* Interview several investigators. Although some cases are simple, others may require more detailed investigation. Be sure to discuss the extent of your case with each of the potential investigative partners. Also, make sure the investigators you are considering will all agree on the same scope of their services.
* Ask the potential criminal defense investigator about witness interviews. Some investigations will require witness interviews before they progress to more detailed activity. In addition, certain witnesses, such as the victim’s relative, may have to be interviewed separately. As you narrow down your choice of an investigator, be sure to ask them about witness interviews.