What is a criminal defense investigator? This question has been on the lips of hundreds and thousands of people over the last 10+ years. For those unaware, a criminal defense investigator (CDI) is an investigator specifically trained to gather evidence and testimony in the defense of a person or case. This type of investigator does not necessarily specialize in the defense; he/she may work for a private investigator or government agency. The major difference between the two however is that the CDI is hired specifically to assist the defense in any way possible.
Why would such an investigator be needed? It is pretty simple really; with no physical evidence to use against your accused, you need all the information at your disposal. The investigator will gather information such as; vehicle registration, address history, service tag number, toll free and cellular phone numbers. Along with this information you will need to obtain witness statements, any video footage of the scene, and any criminal background information. All of this will be used to build your case against the defendant.
So, what exactly is a criminal defense investigator doing? They are hired by the defense, for a specific purpose. Their primary duty is to build a strong case against their client; one which will convince a judge and jury to side with them in their defense of the accused. There are many perks that come along with this job, including a hefty salary, holiday pay, medical benefits, and various perks depending on where you are employed. Some state may require additional training before an investigator can legally take the position; this is to ensure the best quality investigation and results.
Do I have to hire my own criminal defense attorney to work for me? Unless you are a lawyer or a paralegal, the answer is no. An investigator can work on their own, under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Some states do require licensing, but most allow private investigators to work independently. The vast majority of private investigators are self-employed, which means that they work for themselves and get paid for the services they provide.
What does it take to become a criminal defense attorney investigator? To become a paralegal or attorney, you will need a bachelor’s degree, three years of legal schooling at a community college, and four years of law school at a prestigious institution. Once you have completed the required education, you must pass the state bar exam in order to be a practicing attorney.
Can the government hire me to conduct an investigation? Yes. The U.S. attorney’s office has the authority to hire investigators for cases. In order to qualify, the employee must pass the bar exam. This is the only way an investigator can work for the government.
Is it possible to become a private investigator on your own? Yes, there are companies that hire investigators on a freelance basis. If you have legal case experience and are experienced working with the court system, it may be possible to find a company that will hire you as an independent case agent, and handle all the necessary investigation to build your case.
How do I find out if I have a case that might qualify? You can contact your local state bar association for employment information. If the state bar does not have the information you need, then you will want to contact a criminal defense attorney. They will assist you in finding a position. They can inform you of the requirements of becoming a defense attorney, and help you fill out the necessary forms.