Today, DIA serves all criminal defense investigators and Public Defender Investigators. The Association has been established to: Provide adequate representation to Criminal Defense Investigators; Promote the legal interests of criminal defense investigation; provide training and certification opportunities for criminal defense investigators; provide public education regarding criminal defense investigations; and provide an infrastructure between criminal defense investigators and court officials for the exchange of advice and information. Recently, DIA was redesignated as a not for profit corporation. (DIA was redesignated in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code and changes made by the Internal Revenue Service in regards to tax identification number 1003.) This move enables DIA to expand its programs and services so that it can more adequately serve the needs of both investigators and court officials.
There are many benefits to becoming a member of DIA. Among these benefits are being a part of a great investigative team, having access to criminal defense attorneys who specialize in your type of case, and being able to interview witnesses and related material. Another benefit is being able to interview witnesses, potential witnesses and law enforcement personnel. Lastly, becoming a member allows you to monitor and/or photograph any activity that may relate to your case.
Although there are several benefits of becoming a member of DIA, there are also several drawbacks that need to be considered. One of the major downsides of becoming a member is that there is no uniform training program or educational opportunity for criminal defense investigators. Each state has its own requirements for training and certification but even then, the requirements are often very similar. Some states require no additional training, while other states require additional education and training programs.
Other than uniformity, another drawback to being a member is the lack of networking opportunities. Unlike a police department, where you can easily find a criminal defense investigator that is experienced in your area of expertise, there is not a consistent state-to-state basis for recognizing expert criminal defense investigators. Because the field of criminal defense litigation is so specialized, it is very difficult to find someone who meets all the necessary qualifications and has the time of day to dedicate to your case. In many cases, it can be more effective and helpful to hire an attorney based on your personal experience with the criminal justice system.
Despite the lacking networking opportunities, criminal defense investigators have an advantage over most lawyers because they are usually paid upfront. This means that they are rarely paid by the hour. The exception could be cases where the defendant or his or her representatives actually pocket the money that was spent on the investigation. Many times, the fees associated with private investigative investigations are far less than those of public defenders. Therefore, criminal defense investigators are able to provide indigent defendants with the representation and resources that they need to defeat their cases.
One of the primary reasons that legal investigators are hired is to collect evidence against a defendant. While many criminal defense investigators collect evidence on their own, there are instances when they must turn the evidence over to another party. For example, if a defense investigator collects evidence and then fails to turn it over to the defendant’s attorney, the attorney may be able to use the evidence against the defendant. In this instance, the defense investigator would likely be fired if they fail to follow proper protocol. Because most criminal defense investigators are paid by the government, their employers will often ensure that they keep the proper documentation relating to the duties and responsibilities of their position.
Many criminal defense investigators work with a rotating pool of investigators that rotate on a daily basis. If a particular investigator is not meeting the minimum standards required by his employer, he or she may be replaced. The rotation process ensures that each investigator is doing his job effectively, which allows each attorney to get his or her fair share of cases. In most states, most private investigators will receive either a fixed or retainer for their services. This rotational system benefits both the investigator and his clients by ensuring that each attorney gets at least one case handled by an investigator. The fixed amount is intended as an insurance policy; in the event that an investigator does not perform up to par, his employer will replace him with another one.
In order to become an effective private investigator, it is essential to take a comprehensive training program that includes both classroom instruction and experience in the field. It is also important to acquire formal education and certification related to criminal justice system law. There are a number of great online programs available that teach students how to investigate and gather information, as well as how to present cases and present expert witnesses in court. A great program will allow students to develop the ability to build organized cases, coordinate interview techniques, and learn how to draft winning strategies to increase the odds of a client winning their case. A program will prepare students to work as independent agents that will perform investigative work independently as well as collaborating with lawyers and paralegals in a courtroom.