A criminal defense investigator is a professional person who can be employed by individuals, organizations or NGOs to undertake investigative duties in a court of law. Criminal investigators also work for lawyers in criminal and civil cases. They perform an investigation regarding a crime, which could be an alleged crime or an act that is suspected to have been done with the intention to commit a crime. They investigate crime scenes, interview witnesses and suspects, collect and compile evidences, make searches and statements, and present their findings to the court for use in court.
A defense investigator is usually called upon to serve as an independent and impartial investigator in a criminal case. Their role involves gathering evidence and assisting the lawyers in building their defense in court. They are highly skilled in cross-questioning witnesses and suspects and they are proficient in uncovering hidden evidence. They must possess excellent communication skills and critical thinking skills to determine the accuracy of witness statements. They need to understand the techniques of interviewing and persuasion in order to ensure effective testimony.
There are many types of investigators who provide criminal defense services. Some specialize in computer forensics. This kind of expert forensic investigator is able to examine deleted files and retrieve emails, instant messaging conversations, and instant messages from cellular phones and PDAs. Other investigators specialize in surveillance, human resources, investigations, incarceration, private security, bail bonds, and public records. Computer forensic investigators may consult with prosecution witnesses for witness cooperation and may even assist the prosecuting attorneys with any email trails obtained through electronic surveillance.
Training requirements for criminal defense attorneys vary. Most states require criminal defense lawyers to take the training offered by the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI). Certified NALI investigators attend a one-credit course in electronic surveillance. The course is designed to prepare an investigator for interviews, surveillance, and court room strategies. Once certified, candidates can be admitted to the NALI as an affiliate. As a member of the organization, they can have access to its resources and can take continuing education courses.
A criminal defense attorney has many responsibilities. This includes tracking down any evidence against his or her client. The investigator should have extensive experience in locating and retaining crucial evidence. The investigator should be able to locate any digital media such as thumb drives, CDs, DVDs, and mobile phones. It may be wise to recruit the services of more than one investigator.
After a defendant is charged with a criminal offense, he or she should seek representation from a criminal defense attorney. Representing a client is the most important responsibility of the attorney. This responsibility requires an investigator to gather evidence and interview witnesses. The investigator should be able to effectively communicate with his or her client and should have an understanding of how to use computer forensics to bolster the case.
An investigator’s job may require him or her to visit the scene of the crime and to collect physical evidence. Once collected, the investigator should review the evidence. Reviewing the evidence will help the criminal defense attorney to present a strong case for his or her client. The investigator should be careful to note all information he or she gathers in an organized report. The investigator should make sure all data is documented in a professional manner and that it is not overlooked during cross-examinations.
What is a criminal defense investigator? The answer is both a yes and no. While the name may seem self-explanatory, the position entails a number of responsibilities. However, attorneys appreciate that investigators are willing to take an interest in their clients’ cases, and are often willing to do everything possible to ensure a client’s innocence. In fact, most criminal defense lawyers rely upon the assistance of an investigator in many cases, including preparing for court proceedings and presenting expert witness testimony.