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The Attorney’s Guide to Using Private Investigators for Criminal Defense Cases

Why do defense attorneys need a private investigator’s help?


As a criminal defense attorney, your daily schedule is full of meetings, hearings, case file reviews and other important tasks that require your careful consideration. Regardless of your skill level, case loads sometimes become overwhelming. An experienced private investigator provides you with information that may help sway the judge or jury in your client’s favor. By outsourcing the investigative aspect of your case to a criminal defense investigator, you give yourself more time to focus on the nuances of the law so that you are able to provide your client with adequate representation.


What does a private investigator look for when conducting criminal defense investigations?


An experienced private investigator who specializes in criminal defense provides a valuable service for both you and your client. Essentially, the private investigator’s primary goal is to find information that was either inadvertently overlooked or intentionally ignored by law enforcement investigators. Many criminal defense investigators are former law enforcement investigators who understand the nuances of criminal investigations, elements of offenses and proper investigative protocols.


The first step in a criminal defense investigation is for the private investigator to meet with you and your client. The purpose of this initial meeting is for the criminal defense investigator to develop a basic understanding of the allegations against your client, learn what specific information you already know you need, and hear a broad overview of your client’s perception of the facts.


The next step is for the investigator to review all discovery received from the prosecution. This step requires scrupulous attention to detail and a thorough understanding of how the ideal criminal investigation should be conducted. By understanding the law enforcement investigative process, the private investigator can point out errors and omissions that could exonerate your client or reveal mitigating factors.


With a strong grasp of the case details, the investigator interviews victims, witnesses, other involved parties and your client. Often, criminal defense interviews provide clarification for statements made by those involved in the case. Unfortunately, law enforcement investigators often leave out crucial information that does not look favorably on their case against your client. A skilled criminal defense investigator can take the requisite time to learn details that may help your case. During this process, the private investigator may uncover evidence that you need to bolster your client’s defense. These interviews may also allow the investigator to uncover information that may impeach an opposing witness’s credibility.


A competent investigator thoroughly documents the investigative process along the way. Depending on your preference, the investigator will update you along the way, provide you with a final report, or both.


How much does a criminal defense investigation cost?


If privately acquired, the cost of a private investigator to work a criminal defense case varies based on the chosen investigator’s rates and the time required to conduct the investigation. Fortunately for you, American Alliance Security Agency provides private investigators in New Hampshire and New England at affordable and reasonable prices, taking into consideration the specifics of your case.


What steps should you take when choosing a private investigator?


Step 1: Research the background and reputation of several top-rated investigators in your area


View private investigator Google reviews

The easiest way to begin locating top-rated investigators is to do a quick Google search for private investigators in your area. Look for investigators with at least a four-star rating and more than fifteen individual reviews.


Check the quality of their Google My Business listing and their website

Once you have a few investigators in mind, look over their websites and Google My Business listings. If they clearly put effort into their online presence, that is an indicator they will do the same for your case. If they don’t, you’ll probably end up with a sloppy investigation. Look at the services they offer, as well. What is their experience?


Determine their experience and training

Not all investigators are qualified to help you. For example, if you are charged with a crime you did not commit, the last thing you want is a private investigator with no law enforcement investigative experience. You need an investigator who has worked criminal cases both on the prosecution side and the defense side. That experience provides them with a unique understanding of the nuances of our criminal justice system. Similarly, if you are going through a vicious custody battle, you want an investigator who is experienced in that specialty, rather than an insurance investigator.


Verify their licensing status

Most importantly, verify the private investigator has a state-issued license. You can learn more licensing for private investigators in New Hampshire here.


Step 2: Schedule a consultation with each investigator

Speak with the investigator by telephone


Most private investigators will provide a free phone consultation. This is a great opportunity for you to determine if the investigator comes across as a professional. If you are not comfortable with their communication skills, go no further.


Request an in-person or video consultation

Once you have spoken with the investigator by telephone and feel comfortable continuing the conversation, request either an in-person or video consultation so that you can see the investigator and verify the photo on their private investigator license matches the person with whom you are speaking.


Discuss your case in more detail

This is the appropriate time for you to discuss your situation on a more-detailed level. Explain your goal and provide any information you think may help (or hinder) the investigation. See how the investigator responds and gauge whether you feel they are capable or not.