Not all private investigators are created equal.
If you Google “Private Investigator, Idaho”. You will see a list of several investigators, associations and private investigative companies. How do you know which one is the right one for you?
Did you know that several of the agencies listed on that first page aren’t even in Idaho? Several of the results of your search appear to have an Idaho address and home office, but actually they are a larger agency located outside of Idaho. Idaho doesn’t require a Private Investigator or a Private Investigative Company to be licensed to work in Idaho.
What these agency’s do after you hire them is reach out to someone in Idaho to cover the case for them. Usually this is someone with little or no experience. This is a whole other topic for another blog.
Frequently I am asked why come someone needs an investigator if they have an attorney.
If you are charged with a crime you usually have an attorney representing you. This attorney is a person who has knowledge and a background on the issues of law. But they usually don’t have the experience and background when it comes to police policies and procedures. This is where your private investigator helps.
And truthfully probably less than 20% of cases will benefit by having a qualified experienced investigator assisting your attorney.
But is your case one of those 20%?
Here is an example of how I assist attorneys helping those that have been wrongfully accused.
A 70-year war vet was working in his backyard when he noticed his neighbor sitting around a firepit with other individuals.
This war vet approached and asked to speak to this individual away from the others.
The day before, the war vet had observed his neighbor beating his dog excessively in front of his house.
This is where the situation became a” he said/he said”. The conversation became very loud and became physical with punches exchanged. The war vet said that the neighbor became enraged at the allegations concerning the dog and he started to hit the war vet and threw a drinking glass hitting him in the back of the head.
The neighbor stated to law enforcement that the war vet began hitting him and threw a glass at him, hitting him in the face. Both individuals had wounds to corroborate the stories.
Both individuals go to their respective residences and call 911.
Law Enforcement arrives and goes to the neighbors first. They take statements from all those involved via body cameras.
Law enforcement charge both individuals with battery and leave.
I was asked by the attorney for the war vet who refused to pled guilty to a crime he didn’t commit to review the case and provide a review.
Based on the police report and talking with the neighbors, it doesn’t appear that the officers attempted to contact any neighbors in the area of the incident. A “canvas” is a door-to-door inquiry or brief interview with individuals in or residing in the area of the crime in an attempt to identify witnesses. The purpose of conducting this canvas is not to conduct in-depth interviews, but to locate possible witnesses or persons who might have information about the crime. The officer(s) conducting the canvas should identify the location of the individual and if they observed or heard anything relating to the specific crime or case. The officer conducting the canvas should obtain the name and address of each person they spoke with, whether the person provided information or not, if there are others that reside in the same location, and if no one is home, it should be noted so an officer may attempt to contact at a later date.
This was a unique location as it was next to a RV park and it was summer time. It was very probable that someone in the RV park was outside and witnessed the events.
In the photographs that were provided for review, none of the photographs showed the hands or knuckles of either individual. It is common in a physical altercation that the subjects will have evidence of bruise and scrapes to their knuckles. The war vet had also stated that he was kicked and had marks on his legs evidence of this statement. Law Enforcement failed to document this.
When the officers first arrived on the scene, they failed to speak with the individuals independently, therefore, any statements made are contaminated and should not be considered. When an officer arrives at a crime scene it is important to preserve the scene, this includes any statements by those involved and those that witnessed the incident. At a scene such as this one, an officer should have remained with those that are believed to have witnessed the event to assure that they don’t speak about what they had observed with others and contaminate the statements. One of the other officers should then speak with each person away from the others independently.
When the first officer arrives, he speaks to one of the involved individuals involved in the presence of this individual’s wife, who keeps injecting her version of the story of what happened along with his.
During this investigation, the officer failed to isolate the individuals involved, and other possible witnesses who were present and witnessed he event. Any information that they provided of this incident is contaminated by the statements heard prior to being interviewed.
This is evident when the officers interviewed a young male, whom the officers were told witnessed the event. When the officer interviewed him, he told the officer all that he knew is what his uncle had told him.
Evidence comes in many forms, and is used to support or corroborate facts and or allegations.
In reviewing this incident, it is unclear if there were one or two glasses thrown. The officer never clarifies this fact when speaking with those involved. In reviewing the officer body cameras, the individuals state that one subject threw a glass at the other person after the first glass was thrown him.
The officers did find pieces of glass and ice cubes in the yard. One of the officers is observed on the body cameras video taking pictures of these. It appears that the majority of the glass is in the area where the war vet claims he was attacked. None of these pictures were provided for me to review.
From what I have been provided, it appears that the officer did not collect any of the glass pieces, which would have also helped to determine if the pieces were from one glass or two. Another factor was that the war vet had been hit in the back of head by a thrown glass and was bleeding heavily with a lot of blood on the front of his shirt. The other subject claimed that they were grabbing each other and that the war vet was hitting him about his face and person. From the blood evidence present, I was able to testify and show that it was impossible for the war vet to grab and hit him without leaving any blood evidence on his person.
After I testified to all the above facts, the jury came back 5 in favor to acquit and 1 guilty. A hung jury was the result and the prosecutor, after hearing my testimony dismissed the case.
This is why it is so it is important to have someone review your case that has the background and experience to give an expert opinion and someone that can testify as an expert as to the facts.