The Role of Private Investigators In Criminal Defense Investigations

Mumbai’s Best Private Investigators

As one of the top private investigators in Mumbai, my job also brings me in contact with a lot of top attorneys defending accused persons. Let me make it clear here though that there is nothing special or different that we do in terms of techniques of investigations that may differ from those used by law enforcement officials in building a case against the accused. In a criminal defense investigation, the main difference between a private investigator and a law enforcement investigator is that each one works for a different side and a different purpose.

The criminal defense investigation functions of the Private Investigator are as follows:

1. To conduct a separate investigation into the matter.

2. Evaluate the police investigation.

3. Confer with and inform the client and counsel him / her upon the development of the case.

4. To prepare a written report.

5. To testify

best detectives in mumbai indiaTo obtain a thorough understanding of the case, the Private Investigator will read the warrant and refer to the Indian Criminal Code to find out the nature of the offense. The elements of the offense are then compared to what is known about the case at the time. As Private Investigators we are often called upon to inspect the police investigation and find out loopholes and weaknesses that can be exploited and this is discussed with the defense attorney. Private Investigators are supposed to examine all the documentation available especially the witness statements. Private Investigators are supposed to remain alert for all sorts of inconsistencies and loopholes and also remain aware of what the witness said and what was supposed to be said.

Private Investigators in Mumbai like us are seasoned veterans with regards to criminal defense investigations. We know criminal law and criminal procedure and are extremely good at collecting, preserving, analyzing, accounting for, and transporting evidence; taking photographs and notes; interviewing witnesses; comprehending the complex documentation; preparing trial exhibits; and testifying at legal proceedings. Let us look in detail at various aspects of a Criminal Defense Investigation in India and the role that Private Investigators play in each aspect.

The Defendant

The Defendant is an accused in a criminal proceeding. Irrespective of the crime committed, the defendant has the right to be present at each and every stage of the criminal justice process except for grand jury proceedings. Crimes like individuals come in all shapes and sizes. The crime could be white collar such as insider trading in the stock market or fraud. Some could be cross-border terrorism or drug and weapons trafficking. Some may be murder, rape, arson etc. Offenses can be either of local, state or national jurisdiction depending on the nature and implications of the offense.

The accused criminal could be a first time offender or a seasoned criminal. Criminals can be young or old, rich or poor, smart or stupid, local goon or a well known businessman, politician, local mafia boss or even a well respected pillar of the community. Irrespective of the crime that has been committed or regardless of the accused’s social standing, the defendant has a very important right granted by the constitution of India – the right to counsel. If the defendant cannot afford one, the state then assigns a public defender to provide counsel. This is where we as private investigators come in. While the defense attorney representing the accused may be good in practicing law, his investigative skills may leave a lot to be desired. Moreover, the defense attorney may not have the time nor resources to cross check every detail of the opposition’s case. The private investigator provide crucial facts to the attorney to be used in representing the client. A thorough investigation could mean the difference between a person going to jail or being found innocent and freed.

The Defense Attorney

The Defense Attorney is the person who defends the accused from arrest to final appeal. A good defense attorney will defend his client at any cost and based on experience can often use legal technicalities to secure dismissal or before a trial use a plea bargain to reduce the charge. When a client is found guilty,  a good defense attorney will attempt to reduce the severity of the punishment.

A public defender who works for the state can be an attorney working for a formal, state funded agency. State funded defenders are often considered to be at the bottom of the chain due to the fact that they represent clients who are poor and down and out and thus command small to moderate fees for their work.

The Public Prosecutor

The Prosecutor is an attorney working at a local, state or national level prosecuting office. Public Prosecutors represents the state i.e. the people. Their job is to prosecute violations of state law. The public prosecutor brings charges against offenders, conducts trials and helps determine sentences.

A prosecutor will bring the state’s case against accused persons by charging them with a crime and eventually bring them to trial. If the evidence against the accused is weak, the prosecutor may choose not to bring the case to trial. With a court’s permission, the prosecutor is free to plea bargain with the accused person’s attorney to negotiate a resolution in the larger interests of the state. Since the prosecutor is representing ‘Good’ that is the society at large, the prosecutor is obligated to not seek prosecution when facts confirm that the accused is innocent.

The main role of the private investigator is to demonstrate through investigation the weakness of the prosecutor’s case and uncover facts that indicate the innocence of the client.

The Criminal Courts

The Criminal Court is where the administration of justice takes place. Criminal justice is administered in India through a court system consisting of lower criminal courts, high courts and supreme court. Each state in India has their own court system and so does the Republic of India. Criminal defense investigations for serious cases are mostly conducted in the higher courts. All trials conducted in courts are formal and strictly respects the defendant’s constitutional rights. This fact demands that Private Investigators understand the rules of evidence and courtroom procedure and are skilled in giving testimony.

Author Bio

Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best private investigators in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough pre matrimonial investigation services in Mumbai among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high.

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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