Word Warriors Public Speaking Club

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The job of a Criminal Defense Investigator

I am sure that most people are curious what the job of a Criminal Defense Investigator consists of. Here are a few examples of day-to-day activities of a Criminal Defense Investigator from the start of receiving a case from an attorney:

1) Log the case into the database
2) Write down all important court dates on the calendar
3) Review all items pertinent to the case
4) Make a list of items for discovery
5) Make a list of tasks that need to be accomplished such as re-interviewing a witness, visit the crime scene, etc.
6) Accomplish listed tasks
7) Put together a(n) investigative report(s) for the attorney including any attachments such as photos, drawings, finger prints, etc.
8) Be available on days of court hearings for additional investigative tasks from the attorney.
9) Be ready to testify, if called by either the prosecution or the defense.

Quite a few people have asked me what the role of a Criminal Defense Investigator is. Some people would say that it is to interview witnesses, review the report and conduct any other type of investigative techniques that would benefit the client. While I agree that the role of a Criminal Defense Investigator is to do the tasks listed above, there is another role that is not often spoken about but plays a part in almost every criminal defense case.

Most people forget that when you are working as a Criminal Defense Investigator, you have a second role and that role is to investigate each case with your goal being to gather evidence that would either mitigate the offense or if possible, exonerate the defendant of all charges.

The goal of a Criminal Defense Investigator is to gather evidence to disprove the prosecutions case and in essence, you are "muddying the waters." If you don't think that a Criminal Defense Investigators job is to "muddy the waters" in a case then to prove your point, your next interview that you do should encompass every portion of the incident. If you do an all encompassing investigation, see how long you work in this field. Most attorneys have certain questions that they want answered and that is all they want you to do. As in all occupations, find out what your employer, in this case the attorney, wants and give it to him.

As a Criminal Defense Investigator, you have different types of reports that you can submit to the attorney. One of those reports is a topic-limited report. This type of report supports your clients innocence and prevents a witness from revealing information that would be otherwise damaging to your clients case. Wouldn't this be "muddying the waters?"

Is it important to find the person who is responsible for the crime in a case where you feel your client is truly innocent? Of course not! That is the job of law enforcement. A Criminal Defense Investigators job is to locate and provide evidence to the attorney that he can present to a jury causing reasonable doubt that the accused has committed the crime. Isn't this also "muddying the waters"?

I don't think that providing evidence that creates a smokescreen is unethical when your job is to provide evidence to an attorney whose job is to zealously defend his client. What is that I said?

"A Defense Attorney's job is to zealously defend their client"

I don't see anything that says "defend their client only if they are innocent!" There also isn't anything that says "an Attorney should defend a client unless they are guilty!"

In conclusion, the job of an investigator is to provide the Defense Attorney with the tools to do his job effectively. In this instance, those tools are evidence provided to the attorney to assist in his effective assistance of the defendant in their defense to criminal charges. After all, no Attorney wants to be accused of IAC (Ineffective Assistance of Counsel), which is why so many Criminal Defense Attorneys hire Criminal Defense Investigators to assist in their cases.