Building a solid case involves research, investigation and evidence. Private investigators help law firms find and deliver the proof that they need to support a case – and ensure that it’s court admissible. Depending on the nature of the case this proof may include public records, witness depositions or proof of assets.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways a PI can help a lawyer preparing to present a case.
Locating witnesses for depositions
Depositions are a key part of pre-trial discovery. They involve locating witnesses and eliciting a statement from them for use pre-trial and potentially later on the witness stand. While generally taken orally, written depositions are also valid testimony.
Private investigators play a crucial role in locating witnesses or persons of interest. In many instances only minimal information about these individuals may be available, while in others they simply don’t want to be found. In both cases a professional investigator can help to track them down. Using public records research and digital research, a PI can locate persons of interest so that a deposition can be finalized.
Initial information gathering and surveillance
Some types of cases may require initial information gathering for a legal team to decide how to act or what avenues to pursue. For example, a divorce case may proceed differently if a spouse has been cheating, is demonstratively a poor parent or is attempting to hide assets.
Private investigators can undertake detailed initial research including surveillance, digital analysis and records research, providing the evidence needed to pursue a particular path forward.
Background checks and prior claims
Private investigators can help lawyers know exactly who they’re dealing with – as well as the details of a particular case. Using online and records research, a PI can help determine a person’s character, as well as identify any prior cases or claims in their name.
This can be helpful in assessing insurance claims such as those relating to work or vehicular accidents, or in evaluating an individual being sued for malpractice or inappropriate behavior.
Expert witness testimony
Expert witnesses are critical in pre-trial investigations and may also be called upon during the hearing itself. They’re generally brought in to help lend credence to an argument or refute testimony or accusations.
Expert witnesses can be drawn from any field, but commonly include medical professionals, psychologists, scientists and professors. Law enforcement experts such as private investigators can also play a vital part in delivering expert witness testimony.
A private investigator expert witness will be able to communicate the details of the case in language easily understood by the jury, and will be able to answer challenging, nuanced questions about the case, lending support to a legal argument.
Case-building and reconstruction
Lawyers are experts in building airtight arguments in favor of their client. But having a private investigator at hand can help bolster their case. PIs can reconstruct the circumstances around a crime, or even piece together personal connections, biases or conflicts of interest that may be relevant.
This can help in building a case for or against an individual, as well as to predict the opposing counsel’s next move. It may even be useful in helping to prepare for cross-examination.
From locating persons of interest through testifying on the witness stand, a private investigator is a valuable supporting member of any legal team. Hire a PI with strong research and surveillance skills, as well as a thorough understanding of civil and criminal law, and you’ll have a powerful ally on your side.