“Innocent until proven guilty” is the cornerstone of the American justice system, but not always is this statement followed to the letter in the defense of one charged with a crime. Justice is often denied, and damages to innocent lives are devastating. A professional, ethical private investigator can assist in preventing injustice through truth-seeking and evidence based investigations.
Bad police work, bad investigations
Although not all agencies, attorneys, and detectives are guilty of following faulty thinking when investigating a case, even the best can fall into hazards presented to them.
Too often investigators react to hunches, or have tunnel vision when circumstances exist pointing to a particular suspect, even without concrete evidence. Along with prosecutors, who may be overzealous to mark a win, officers and detectives can force a confession, pull a bad lineup, or manipulate the evidence to convict the suspect. While that suspect may indeed be guilty of the crime, it allows for too much error and a possible conviction of the wrong person.
In today’s era of advanced forensic technology and strides made in DNA testing, wrongful convictions are still happening at an alarming rate due in some part to railroading a suspect that fits the criteria for conviction. Relying on bad police work and prosecutorial misconduct to accumulate convictions is a practice that must be changed in order to be certain that true justice is being carried out. A private investigator is available to not only assist in truth-seeking, but can objectively keep check of any misdeeds of others involved in the investigation.
Problems with eyewitnesses
According to the Innocence Project:
Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide.
Before advances in technology, eyewitness testimony was considered more reliable. Judges and juries depend on witnesses to tell the truth, but that truth is as the witnesses know it. There has been considerable study showing that eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful conviction.
What goes wrong with an eyewitness is multi faceted and can be often traced to misidentification from the crime scene to faulty lineup identification. It must be taken into consideration that the human mind is not always able to totally recall what it sees or hears. These fallacies must be changed within the investigative process, as well as during trial from both the prosecution and defense.
Although useful to an investigation, eyewitness testimony should be backed up by solid evidence. The Innocence Project is working with many jurisdictions and policymakers for reform to procedures which decrease the incidence of misidentification and wrongful conviction.
Evidence, chain of custody, contaminated crime scenes
Opportunities can arise for evidence and convictions to be compromised, from the crime scene all the way to the judge’s bench through the mishandling of evidence, or through preconceived notions about the guilt or innocence of a defendant.
When evidence is not properly cataloged, or a crime scene is not secured, the overall case suffers as does the perception of first responders, detectives and attorneys. When the evidence is undermined or otherwise not presented properly, it often leads to a wrongful conviction, or at best a case of flawed justice.
A private investigator can work along with the defense attorney to uncover any breaches of evidence or eyewitness misidentification, and review police records to insure that the client indeed gets a fair trial based on solid evidence.
While law enforcement professionals are bound to uphold the law and protect citizens, they are also reminded that in the course of enforcing the law they must also be vigilant in protecting the innocent. This is the ultimate goal of our justice system, to see that everyone receives equitable treatment and a fair trial.
Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.
Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements. Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org