Criminal Defense Investigators, also known as forensic examiners, is independent experts who collect evidence and information for a defense in any criminal case. While the prosecution often has several investigators (e.g., police officers, state detectives, and trial detectives), many defendants simply gamble with no hired investigator at all. If convicted of any crime, a criminal defense attorney can use expert testimony to prove the defendant’s innocence and prepare the case for trial.
Criminal defense attorneys determine the outcome of trials by using forensic evidence to make a case against the defendant. Expert witnesses in criminal cases are often used to testify about the presence or absence of certain physical evidence, the victim’s credibility, motive, or lack of guilt. These types of witnesses are called “experts” and are usually required to offer an opinion of the facts or circumstances of a case based on their knowledge and experience. Criminal defense investigators are often referred to as investigators, witnesses, or experts because their work revolves around gathering evidence to support a client’s defense. They often interview potential witnesses, investigate crime scenes, collect documents, and test or analyze statements and fibers from crime scenes and victims.
One major responsibility of criminal defense investigators is determining if a suspect is guilty. Expert witnesses provide this proof by telling jurors or the court on their behalf whether a defendant is guilty of the crime for which they are charged. They also interpret data obtained from the testimony, evidence, or site visits. Forensic examiners are the only ones who can make a final ruling about a case and only an expert witness can do that. Often they are the last line of defense and rely on their analysis and expertise more than any other testimony.
Witness Interviews. When working on a case, criminal defense attorneys often interview state witnesses in an effort to build a stronger case for their clients. These state witnesses include jailhouse snitches, former police officers, state witnesses, and private detectives. While state witnesses may not necessarily offer the best insight into the crimes for which their clients are charged, they are often willing to speak to investigators because they hope to influence the outcome of their case by telling what they know.
Informative Phone Contact. Another task of criminal defense investigators is building a strong network of credible witnesses. This means building relationships with other state witnesses, colleagues, and criminal defense attorney attorneys. By working closely with these individuals, a criminal defense attorney can build a timeline of relevant information that will be used in court.
Crime Scene Observation. After interviewing possible witnesses and gathering relevant information, criminal defense investigators often go to the crime scene itself to review the area and look for further clues. Such experts are able to look for bullet holes, blood spatter, any blood markings, and the like. It is sometimes possible to reconstruct the crime scene and take notes from where the crime was committed.
Private Investigator Training. Some state and local law enforcement personnel do not hold extensive criminal defense investigations, so private investigators are needed. Often times, a private investigator will serve as an outside consultant who will review the case file and make recommendations. This person will provide his or her own unique opinions, often offering new perspectives that have not been explored within the jurisdiction of the law enforcement personnel. In some cases, these independent perspectives may prove more helpful than those offered by law enforcement personnel. Often times, private investigators offer their services for a fee.
The bottom line is that criminal defense investigators play a vital role in keeping our society secure. Because most crimes are solved using advanced technology, it is important that all individuals remain aware of the resources available to them to ensure their safety. Each year, thousands of cases go unsolved and victims do not receive the justice they deserve due to limited criminal defense investigations. When hiring a private investigator, it is important to consider his or her experience, education and background.