art2oct2011How Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Find a Well Qualified and Credible Professional Investigator.

One of the most important things an attorney may have to do is find and retain a highly qualified and experienced professional investigator. We are all products of our choices and this choice can and does have significant consequences for a criminal defense attorney. An effective investigator can make the difference between a prosperous victory and a dismal outcome. Ask any successful trial attorney, and more often than not, they will unofficially praise the work of their investigator.

In last month’s issue of Fraud Alert we offered five tips on how to find a private investigator. We also listed ten basic questions to ask a prospective investigator. These were given to help you weed out candidates and identify those professional investigators who may be an asset on your criminal defense team. Here we want to go a little deeper into the selection process to recommend how a criminal defense attorney can find that combination of experience, diligence, and dedication in a prospective investigator that would make him a good fit in your criminal defense team.

Finding the right private detective can be exhausting and frustrating, because the requisite investigative skills are not easily obtained. However, if you follow a few simple guidelines, along with some common sense and trust your instincts, you can make your search worthwhile.

In addition to the fundamental skills required to conduct an investigation, a professional investigator will need advanced training in such areas as crime scene investigation, interviewing and interrogation, and experience in major or complex investigations. He wears many hats and serves in many different roles. He may be asked to photograph a crime scene, conduct comprehensive background checks on witnesses, interview victims, police officers and witnesses, and testify to his finding in court. Since you the investigator will be a critical member of your defense team you will want him to have the following well developed skills:

Crime Scene Analysis:
You need to know the extent of your investigator’s training and experience in examining crimes scenes, taking photographs, gathering, documenting and recording evidence, as well as analyzing what did and did not happen at the incident scene.

Evidence Review and Critique:
Your investigator must be familiar with evidence. He must know how to recognize evidence overlooked at the scene and how to document and gather it in a way that it is admissible in court.

Interview Abilities and Experience:
It is important that your investigator know how to address witnesses in different situations and how to navigate in different areas of town. He must know the facts of the case well from both the prosecution and the client’s points of view. The investigator must have a relationship network, as knowing people in the industry that can help him locate and possibly greet an important witness. He must know how to proceed if a witness is lying or giving inconsistent statements.

Police Reports Familiarity and Critique:
An experienced investigator who has reviewed police reports over time and is aware of police protocols, as well as what is normally required in an investigation, can easily identify irregularities, incomplete investigations, or discrepancies with normal requirements. You need an investigator who is confident working around the police and reviewing their work.

Interview Police Officers and Detectives:
An experienced investigator with extensive law enforcement experience and contacts will be most effective when conducting interviews with police officers and detectives. Law enforcement personnel may have valuable information that they are only willing to share with someone they trust and can relate to.

Critical Thinking and Reasoning Abilities:
You need an investigator who has the ability to reengineer or restructure the investigation and the investigative process. You will benefit from finding someone who is able to identify a new way of defending clients, someone who is creative, dedicated to defending this client and is willing to give that extra effort to make a difference in the case. You need an above average investigator.

Familiar with the Tools of His Trade:
Not all information and evidence available will be low-hanging fruit. Much of it, especially after law enforcement has had its turn at examining the crime scene, will be harder to get facts that are partially hidden or overlooked and out of easy reach or obvious view. Your investigator needs to have access to data bases and facility with instruments for obtaining information and evidence that can help prove the case for the defense in court.

Oral and Written Communication Skills:
Your criminal defense team relies on each team member to report their findings to others so that the team can move forward in an efficient and cooperative manner. Both oral and written communications must be mastered to facilitate progress toward a common goal.

Experienced Witness:
An investigator may be called to testify in court to introduce evidence and verify other information developed through his investigation.

Conclusion:
An experienced private investigator can provide a vast array of services that will enhance your knowledge of the case and proficiency as a criminal defense attorney. As a result, you may win more cases, obtain better pleas and overall have a stronger position in plea negotiations. This should result in you growing your business with more clients and higher fees. If you need further assistance or ideas on finding an experienced professional investigator, contact Cadfael at (763) 694-6086. We will be glad to help you.

Should you need assistance finding an investigator, Cadfael Investigative Group will be happy to assist you free of charge. We offer a free consultation with one of our experienced private investigators. If we cannot help you, we will direct you to a quality investigator who can. Call us at (763) 694-6086