The job of the criminal defense investigators is to uncover the truth that your lawyer needs for a successful criminal defense. An investigator will review the case s evidence, interview potential witnesses, re-intercept critical testimony from the opposing party, and find new evidence and witnesses that will reveal a defendant to be absolutely innocent of the criminal charge. With an aggressive attitude and hard work, criminal defense investigators often make a tremendous impact on the outcome of trials. While most are hired directly by the defense, there are many private investigators that are willing to work on a contingency basis, or for a percentage of any winnings, if the defense wins the case.
One of the most common tasks of criminal defense investigators is witness interviews. Often, state witnesses are incredibly reluctant to speak to law enforcement officials, even when there is strong, direct evidence against them of involvement in a crime. This reluctance often stems from fear of further antagonizing the state or city officials who are investigating the case, or possibly fear of being subjected to lie detector tests or other tests designed to uncover potentially exculpatory information. Criminal defense attorneys develop specific strategies to interview state witnesses. For example, if a defense attorney believes the state witness has a prior relationship with the defendant, he may use that relationship to strengthen his client’s position at trial.
Another common task of criminal defense investigators is to review testimony from local law enforcement officials. Local police officers are typically one of the first parties to contact a suspect after a set of investigating techniques have failed to yield any solid evidence against the individual. Because of this, it is common for local law enforcement officials to refuse to discuss any evidence that has been obtained during a sting operation. State police officers are often quite forthcoming about all evidence they seize during investigations. However, they often are reluctant to talk to criminal defense attorneys or private detectives. The reluctance on the part of local law enforcement officials often stems from fear of rocking the boat, being looked bad by the community, or a combination of all of these factors.
There are a few reasons why criminal defense investigators often find it very difficult to work with local police officers. First, many local police officers are aware that they are being monitored by special investigative units and that any contact made by them with a suspect could ultimately be used in court. Second, many witnesses are afraid that if they cooperate with the state police that some kind of evidence against them will surface in court. This can cause some witnesses to shy away from providing any testimony, or to lie about what really happened during an arrest. Third, many witnesses are afraid that if they admit to participating in an investigation, they will say anything, even untrue, in exchange for leniency for the defendant.
Many criminal defense investigators encounter various barriers to gaining cooperation from witnesses. Some witnesses are wary of talking to a stranger, while others are hesitant to talk with a law enforcement official. Others still may not wish to be identified as a potential criminal. Often, a criminal defense attorney persuades a witness to talk with the investigator rather than to a prosecutor. Sometimes a criminal defense attorney will consult with a former FBI agent regarding possible sources of information regarding an undercover operation, such as the bureau’s use of confidential agents. In many cases, a former FBI agent will provide information that has not been made available to the public.
In some cases, criminal defense investigators may speak with prosecution witnesses on their own accord without the knowledge of the prosecutor or police officer interviewing them. However, most often, law enforcement investigations result in damaging or embarrassing leaks to the media, which then cause embarrassment to prosecutors and police officers who were performing their duties in the first place. In many instances, news of investigations results in more people coming forward with their statements, thereby helping to build a strong defense case. These leaks also damage the reputations of both the police officer and the prosecutor.
It is important for criminal defense investigators to keep accurate records of contacts made with both prosecution and defense attorneys. Interviewing prosecution witnesses is extremely important because it provides valuable information that cannot be obtained without first speaking with these individuals themselves. This can involve long and complex conversations with witnesses that cannot be handled on one particular day with just the prosecution and their local law enforcement investigators. Criminal defense attorneys are often able to better represent their clients when they are able to obtain information from local law enforcement authorities in a timely and effective manner.
Most private investigators are independent contractors. The majority work for private law enforcement investigators or for various government agencies. A good example of this is GIS (geospatial information system) research, which is performed by private investigators. Private investigators can also be state licensed investigators in several states. There are also federal government contract positions for criminal defense investigators. However, there is typically no guarantee that the job will be available, as it may be that there are many openings for GIS position that are not publicized.