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Defense Investigations in DC

Although investigations are most commonly associated with law enforcement, defense attorneys may also conduct their own investigations in order to help build a strong defense. With this in mind, the following is information on the defense side investigations and the impact it can have on a criminal case. To learn more or discuss your case, call a DC criminal defense attorney today.

Purpose of a Defense Investigation

While the details of an investigation will change on a case by case basis, a defense attorney will absolutely conduct an investigation of their own. An attorney will be looking for things such as witnesses or anything else that could potentially cast doubt on the government’s allegations. Additionally, many firms employ full time investigators on our staff and have paralegals, clerks, and other resources available to ensure that a full investigation is done.

What Types of Things Will An Attorney Look For?

With the type of case, the facts of the case, and our experience, an attorney will always want to have witnesses and evidence that can be helpful to the defense. The specificity of what evidence is needed, however, depends on the individual case itself. Knowing what to look for comes from years and years of experience handling criminal cases and knowing what types of evidence can be powerful in defending the case.

Difference Between a Defense Investigation and Government Investigation

The government has an extensive amount of time to investigate a case prior to bringing charges. Each type of crime is different, but there is a statute of limitations. This means once the government learns of allegations of criminal conduct, there is a time period in which they must bring charges or they’re precluded from doing so. In DC, with a misdemeanor, for example, it’s three years. Felonies will have a longer period of time for bringing charges, except for homicide which has no statute of limitations.

The government has a long time to put the case together. But for them to successfully prosecute the case, it is often not in their best interest to drag their feet because witnesses will forget information or move. The government has an interest in trying to get all the information they can in a timely fashion to be able to prosecute while the evidence is still fresh.

Nonetheless, the government has a specific length of time to prosecute a case. Once charges are brought, the length of time is significantly reduced. The defense is always playing catch-up initially. If charges are filed and the defendant does not have representation, which is often the case, the defense is doing a bit of catch-up.

However, the government has the extreme burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt. They have to make sure that they have everything in place; whereas, the defense need only be able to cast doubt on any element of the crime that’s been charged. While the government does have a bit of an advantage regarding the time frame in which they can investigate, the defense certainly has the ability and the time to put together a successful defense to rebut the allegations and evidence.