Hiring a private investigator in the early stages of a criminal or civil case guarantees the best chance of success for your client. The collection of evidence is crucial, and time is of the essence. Your client’s assets, business or freedom could be at stake.
The Importance of Evidence
The successful collection (or lack of collection) of evidence will be the overriding determinant of the outcome of a case. Evidence that is obtained by your opponent will undoubtedly support your opponent’s case. So a poor job of evidence collection, whether because of a lack of conducting a proper neighborhood canvas or the willful disregard for evidence that does not support your opponent’s preconceived conclusions, creates an opportunity for a skilled private investigator to provide you with both concealed and not-yet-revealed evidence. Regardless, evidence obtained by a private investigator can assist with discrediting the opposition or provide leverage during negotiations. Enlisting the services of a private investigator early in a case will yield the best outcome for your client.
Obtaining evidence is time-critical. The window of opportunity to locate, collect and preserve evidence closes with the passage of time. Most digital surveillance video systems recycle their memory after a specified period of time. DNA evidence becomes tainted as days pass by. Fingerprints become compromised due to a variety of factors. Witnesses are harder to identify and locate. Memories fade…
Private investigators understand the investigative process, and if brought on board in the early stages of investigating, your case will be strengthened. Proper defense preparation starts from the case’s inception, not after the release of discovery.
Recently, our agency was retained to assist in a criminal defense case in which the defendant was charged with kidnapping and sexual assault. When we were retained, the case had been tried and was two years old. When we conducted our independent review of discovery, we immediately noticed several inconsistencies and investigative errors throughout law enforcement’s investigation. We quickly established a clear investigative plan and went to work.
As our agency began to investigate, it became overwhelmingly obvious to us that law enforcement had excluded evidence that did not fit into any of its theories, theories that had been established at the start of the investigation – before all evidence had been collected and witnesses interviewed. There was surveillance evidence, which was known to law enforcement but not pursued. DNA evidence had been found but not tested. Eye witnesses to the alleged violent crime were identified but law enforcement failed to follow up. Critical statements were not taken.
Although intent is difficult to prove, this seemed like a clear case of failure to adequately investigate to us. Evidence made available to law enforcement that did not support the prosecution’s theory was not pursued. In this case, the evidence not collected or tested could have supported the defendant’s innocence.
Unfortunately for the defendant, the passage of time combined with the absence of a private investigator early in the case resulted in key pieces of evidence expiring. Critical surveillance video from four independent locations had been recycled. Blood evidence was no longer available. Key eyewitnesses had relocated. Trace evidence had been destroyed by the elements…
Had our agency been retained at the case’s inception, this evidence would have been collected and available for use by the defense. Regardless, we did discover and interview several key witnesses and obtained key evidence in support of the defendant’s innocence.
Cases are won and lost based on the evidence. The best defense starts with the best offense. A private investigator who understands the investigative process should always be brought on board immediately. Waiting until the release of discovery risks the loss of evidence we’ve outlined here. Evidence does have an expiration date.