Is your attorney using an investigator?
A thorough and competent investigation almost always makes the difference between an acquittal or a conviction. It is a foregone conclusion that the district attorney’s office and/or the attorney general’s office will be using every available resource to prosecute your case. This includes local police, detectives, the district attorney’s investigators and state investigators. It is absolutely imperative that you also have resources working on your side.
An effective investigation is a two-tiered process. First, in order to properly investigate a case, the defense attorney must always retain an investigator who has specific experience in that particular case. For instance, if the case involves a driving under the influence arrest, a former police officer who is also an expert in DUI and standardized field sobriety tests would be ideal.
Additionally, in the realm of criminal defense work, it is extremely beneficial to involve an investigator that has law enforcement experience, especially in the area of investigating and preparing cases for filing. These types of investigators have first hand experience investigating crimes, interviewing witnesses (especially difficult witnesses), working closely with prosecutors, testifying in court and the ability to identify “weak points” in the prosecution’s case.
The second tier of this process involves the attorney remaining active in investigation throughout the entire case, as well as providing investigative direction. However, it is vital that the attorney have faith in his investigator’s experience and ability. The importance of the attorney’s constant involvement needs to be emphasized, but an accomplished and competent investigator will not need to be “micro-managed.”
During a properly handled investigation, an investigator will locate and interview witnesses, gather records, review evidence and communicate with family members of the client. Every case is benefited when the defense attorney creates a “team” involving himself, the client and the investigator.
Qualified investigators in the Los Angeles area typically charge on an hourly basis, and virtually every case requires an investigator. If you cannot afford an investigator, you may be eligible to access public funds to hire an investigator. If your attorney can show that you qualify, the court may approve fees for an investigator.