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Importance of Investigators in Criminal Cases

  • September 04, 2017
  • by Stephanie Irvine
  • Articles

When the general public thinks of a private investigator, they may think to common situations in which a PI is hired, including divorce and insurance fraud. What they may not realize, however, is that private investigators often play a critical role in solving criminal cases. Through examining the importance of investigators in criminal cases, the benefits of using a private investigator become apparent.

Working With Law Enforcement

Private investigators are a unique asset that can prove to be incredibly resourceful to law enforcement officers. When police departments are understaffed or overworked, the potential for criminal cases to go unsolved increases. By working together with law enforcement, a private investigator can help bring to light new theories and identify new pieces of evidence that can help solve the case before it grows cold.This may prove to be helpful in not only providing resolution, but in pursuing a conviction, as well.

Additionally, private investigators are able to dedicate their time to a single case if they so choose, providing full resources and attention to that particular case. They are also not limited by jurisdiction lines, so they can pursue leads completely without having to stop and turn over their case.

While some police officers may be reluctant to working with a private investigator, especially in states where there are not strict licensure requirements in place for private investigators, it is important for them to take advantage of a private investigator’s services when they are unable to solve a case themselves. It is also similarly important for private investigators to respect the work that the detectives have already done. Establishing a relationship could prove to be helpful on not only the case that each are working on in the present, but also for future cases as well.

Furthermore, a great number of private investigators were once part of law enforcement in some capacity, which helps bridge the gap between law enforcement and private investigators by helping to establish common ground and a rapport.

Benefits for Law Offices

For attorneys who are pursuing the conviction or vindication of an individual, a private investigator can prove to be an important asset, depending on the type of case. While more straightforward criminal cases (for example, DUI) may not necessitate the need for a private investigator, more complicated or serious cases will.

Private investigators can assist law offices by conducting witness interviews to help bolster support for their side of the case. These could include re-interviewing witnesses who had been previously interviewed by law enforcement as well as finding and interviewing new witnesses who had either initially declined to comment or were not found.  

Similarly, attorneys may not have the time and or internal resources to conduct all of the legwork needed to build a solid case. Before building a case, the attorney has to research, investigate, and review all the details of the case. This is where a private investigator becomes a critical member of the defense or prosecution team.

In fact, some states, such as Wisconsin, actually include private investigation as part of the state appointed defense; however, it is up to the assigned attorney to use them. In some situations, it could mean unnecessary jail time for defendants who are wrongly accused but their defense does not adequately support them.

An analysis of legal resources used in Wisconsin revealed that “The billing data, however, shows most lawyers deem investigators essential.”

Benefits for General Public

When it comes to criminal cases, members of the general public can also benefit significantly from hiring a private investigator. In some cases, and especially cold cases, surviving victims may contact a private investigator in an attempt to breathe new life into a case in hopes of getting it solved.

A fresh set of eyes may help uncover bits of evidence that were previously unnoticed. This is not to imply that the people assigned to the case were negligent; instead, it merely highlights the fact that different individuals will interpret and analyze the facts of a case differently, which increases the chance for the discovery of new information.

While private investigators do not have access to the same resources as law enforcement, they often can approach the detective assigned to the case and see if they are willing to work together. An example of this occurred in Beaumont, Texas, where a man was found dead of unknown, unnatural causes. The case grew cold, and ultimately, the man’s widow called and hired a private investigator. The investigator, Ken Brennan, took on the case, approached the detective, and worked with him to solve the case.

However, individuals can benefit from hiring a private investigator for criminal cases that haven’t gone cold as well. They may wish to hire an investigator to assist with a missing person’s case or to supplement an ongoing investigation or criminal case. Furthermore, there may be the potential for a criminal case and which a private investigator could assist in uncovering a crime.

Choosing a Private Investigator

It’s important to choose a reputable private investigator who is both experienced and up-to-date with any state-required licensure requirements. If you’re in need of a private investigator, you can easily search our directory by city, state or zip to find qualified investigators ready to help.

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