A career as a criminal defense agent is a highly challenging, yet rewarding vocation. The first goal of a criminal defense lawyer is to effectively represent their client in the criminal court room, and make sure that they get a fair and unbiased trial. Their agents investigate all key aspects of the case, seeking out critical information that can be beneficial to the defense in order to prove their client innocent.
As the name implies, criminal defense investigators work for the defense. This means that many times they are called upon to collect evidence against their clients. In many instances, these investigators are not allowed to talk to the police unless they have permission. Often times this means that the investigator must break down doors to speak with police detectives. These police detectives will often consult with a private investigator who works for the prosecuting attorneys in order to build their case against their client. These detectives often interview witnesses, take pictures, and test the reliability of statements.
Often criminal defense investigators will interview several different witnesses. Their goal is to find inconsistencies in the testimony of any witnesses that they present to the prosecutor. inconsistencies can range from miss conversations, mischaracterized time periods, and inconsistencies in the way that information is provided by the witnesses. Sometimes the information that the witness gives can actually be accounted for by the employing investigator. However, other times the information that the witness provides can be unreliable and still give the prosecuting attorneys enough evidence to win the case.
Many times criminal defense investigators work in conjunction with a forensic psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will conduct psychological tests on the witnesses and the defendant in order to determine if the defendant is guilty of the crime in which they are being charged. Forensic psychiatrists may also interview jailhouse snitches in order to obtain important information that can help them build a case against their client. The information that these detectives and psychiatrists gather will be used in court, allowing the judge to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant in a given case is guilty.
When it comes to a rape or murder case many times criminal defense investigators use the statements of one or more witnesses to construct a case against their client. One good example would be if a witness states that the defendant raped them, then this particular witness could potentially become a strong suspect. Yet another example of this would be the testimony of a single individual who states that a defendant confessed to the crime when he was questioned by police. If that witness is actually an accomplice then the value of his or her testimony becomes tainted. Such a witness may be useful to the prosecution but not to the defense.
When criminal defense investigators build a case against a person, it is vital that all witnesses are interviewed. This will give the investigator’s all the information they need to build their case. Eyewitnesses are very valuable to the investigation process because they provide the investigators with crucial details right away. For example, if a person saw the victim after the incident then they could very well be able to identify them. Eyewitness testimony is especially valuable because they are usually very honest in their statements, unlike some people who will say anything just to seem credible.
There are a variety of different types of criminal defense investigators. Some specialize in only one specific type of case such as juvenile delinquency or gang activity. Others work for both local law enforcement personnel and federal agencies like the FBI. Specialty training and extensive schooling is required to become an FBI agent. Unlike other law enforcement personnel, FBI agents have to undergo a rigorous oral and written exam in order to become a private detective.
Many criminal defense investigators work on a contract basis. This means that they either work for a specific law enforcement agency or for a private individual. When working on a contract basis they get paid by the day or by the hour. The most common type of contract is one which pays an hourly rate. Some investigators also work on a freelance basis, which means they get paid based on the percentage of cases they finish.