The Importance of Investigator-Defendant Interviews

When working with an attorney and defendant, one of the obvious and first steps to any investigation, is an investigator-defendant interview. During this initial interview the private investigator and defendant are able to establish a genuine rapport and fully explore the situation and events in question. Only from the “original source” can the private investigator learn the most detailed and descriptive version of the situation and events that transpired.


When working with an attorney and defendant, one of the obvious and first steps to any investigation, is an investigator-defendant interview. During this initial interview the private investigator and defendant are able to establish a genuine rapport and fully explore the situation and events in question. Only from the “original source” can the private investigator learn the most detailed and descriptive version of the situation and events that transpired.

Unfortunately, some attorneys may not permit private investigators access to the defendants. Denying a private investigator access to the defendant forces them to rely on the attorney’s version of the story and the attorney’s recollections, which essentially amounts to hearsay. These well intentioned, yet misguided attorneys, believe they can adequately inform the investigator, however they may have a limited ability to recollect information. A second hand version of the defendant’s perspective and information, may not fully convey all of the details a private investigator will need to perform a proper investigation.

Investigators that rely on hearsay, will not be able to perform their job to the highest level and will compromise their professional integrity. In order to ensure a proper and full investigation, private investigators should be able to access defendants throughout the investigation to ask new questions and review old information for the sake of comparing information.

While each case and defendant should be handled uniquely, certain foundational questions must be asked during each investigation of each defendant. These foundational questions examine the defendant’s rights to determine whether they were observed or violated, and they explore the history and knowledge of the defendant relating to persons, parties and witnesses.

First, private investigators must determine whether the defendants were properly arrested. Were there legal and legitimate grounds to arrest the defendant? Were the defendant’s rights read in full at the time of the arrest? Also, if there is evidence of the arrest, such as a tape recording or a video, that evidence should also be reviewed. Second, if a search warrant was issued, investigators must determine if there was legal and legitimate probable cause. Investigators should also thoroughly review the issued affidavit for any inconsistencies. This information should be compared with reports from police officers, search warrants and search reports. Often use of a timeline, comparing dates, times and names of witnesses, can help establish any inconsistencies that may be present in the case. Third, investigators must determine if the defendant was present during the search(es). If the defendant was not present during the time of the search(es), the investigator must determine if any known persons were present. Finally, investigators must thoroughly review the list of persons testifying at the grand jury hearing. Those names should be checked against police reports and the state’s trial witnesses. The investigator should also review the list of persons with the defendant, and determine if there is any known history of interaction or information. Even the slightest degree of interaction or information about an individual testifying before the grand jury can prove significant. All of the witness’s relevant recollections should be reviewed, recorded and documented.

Direct access to a defendant for interviews is crucial for a private investigator, and their access should be maintained throughout the entire investigation. private investigators should treat each investigation and defendant uniquely and with the utmost due diligence. Private investigators should learn as much as they can from each defendant and help ensure that their rights were properly observed and that they have access to the most useful information for their defense.

Pennington & Associates ltd. provides criminal defense investigation services. Private investigators are available for immediate service in Ohio throughout the cities of Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, Jackson, Chillicothe, Cincinnati, Columbus, and surrounding areas. Service is immediately available in West Virginia throughout the cities of Huntington, Charleston, and surrounding areas.
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