What is a criminal defense investigator?

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Both public defenders and private defense attorneys use investigators. But what, exactly, are defense investigators?


Investigators are independent professionals who gather information and evidence about cases. The prosecution is stacked with “investigators,” from police officers to investigators specifically employed by the prosecution. Most defendants, on the other hand, are lucky if they can afford even one investigator.

Investigators are sometimes former members of law enforcement and sometimes people with legal training. Or they may come from an entirely different background. They’re charged with many tasks, including public (and sometimes private) record searches, locating and interviewing witnesses, and preparing reports. While defense attorneys can and sometimes do handle some of these tasks, they often have neither the time nor expertise of investigators. A good investigator isn’t simply a good locator of information, but also someone who excels at creating a rapport with others and getting them to open up.

by: Micah Schwartzbach

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