A criminal defence attorney’s role is to provide their clients with the very best defence they can and hope to be able to prove that they are not guilty of any of the charges brought against them or at the very least that they are guilty of a lesser charge. The criminal defence attorney is to do all of this while working on other time demanding cases and fighting a system that wants nothing more than to put their client behind bars. In order to provide a proper defence, the criminal defence attorney needs all the evidence they can get in order to uncover the truth. So how do they find the time to conduct a thorough investigation for their client?
An experienced and professional criminal defence investigator frees up the attorney’s time to be able to provide their clients with the best legal defence while providing the attorney with the exculpatory evidence needed to do so.
Defence attorneys who utilise the services of an experienced, professional private investigator experienced in criminal defence to assist in the preparation of criminal a case have learned that the benefits to be derived from such assistance are invaluable to them and to their clients. Experienced investigators often suggest alternate theories of the crime; provide insight into the government’s case, and help shape the successful defence.
The prosecution is stacked with “investigators,” from police officers to investigators specifically employed by the prosecution. Most defendants, on the other hand, are lucky if they can afford even one investigator.
Not all criminal cases require the services of a professional investigator, however in those that do; the investigator is one of the most important members of the defence team. The investigator has several different, but equally important functions in preparing for an effective defence to the government’s charges.
One of the first things that the investigator will do is to verify and validate the investigation conducted by law enforcement officers and agencies. Far too often, police identify a suspect and then seek to build a prosecutable case against that individual. In doing this, they sometimes slant information or cast information in the light most harmful to the defendant. A criminal defence investigator will review the police investigation and re-interview witnesses to find changes in their stories and to develop new and independent leads.
Seeking out new and unidentified witnesses is just as vital in preparing the defence case. These new witnesses often provide information that contradicts the “facts” upon which the prosecution is basing its case.
The criminal defence investigator will evaluate witnesses both as to their truthfulness and veracity, as well as the image that they will convey to a court should they be called upon to testify. This often requires the investigator to learn about each witness in order to discover if there is anything in their personal / professional background and/or their physical or mental condition that can be used effectively either to bolster or attack their testimony. The investigator will talk to each witness; review all the evidence (physical, verbal, video/photographic, etc) that was accumulated by the prosecution.
These “Defence” interviews will be correctly and totally recorded without bias in order to provide accurate and complete information to the Defence Counsel.
The criminal defence investigator will look at developing evidence, which may create a reasonable doubt as to the client's guilt. The evidence may show that the client is guilty, but of a lesser degree of the crime charged. The defence investigation may also show that the client's constitutional rights were violated.
Effective investigators have developed the skills necessary to review evidence and reports and determine whether or not what the prosecution claims is consistent, accurate, and truthful. It is not uncommon for a skilled investigator to uncover inconsistencies or unusual information in reports that will give rise to avenues of investigation favourable to the defence. For example, a police officer’s report of what was found at the scene may not be what is shown in the crime scene photographs. This could lead to an effective cross-examination of the officer and/or the possible suppression of evidence. It is not unusual for an investigator to discover that what has been reported by the police as “fact” is not what in actuality happened once that report is checked by the investigator.
Investigators may also play an important role at the trial of the case. In addition to being called upon to testify, the investigator may also have to conduct additional urgent investigative activities demanded by testimony and/or evidence admitted during the course of the trial.
A private investigator with 30 years experience is also a certified criminal defence investigator and certified computer forensics examiner.
Rick Crouch & Associates