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Defense Investigations in Virginia Criminal Cases

Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, it is very common that a Virginia criminal defense attorney will conduct their own investigation of the scenario that led to their client to be charged with a criminal offense. This means your attorney is not simply going to take the prosecutor’s words for what certain witnesses would say, certain documents would say, or how certain evidences are collected. An attorney would reach out to independent witnesses, issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum (which is subpoena for documents) and use resources available to them to determine whether or not the commonwealth’s investigations were done within the bounds of the law.

Aspects of a Defense Side Investigation

Depending on the type of charge and the jurisdiction, there may be a variety of different angles for a defense investigation. For example, if it is a white collar or property crime that involves extensive financial records, a subpoena duces tecum may be appropriate for banks, credit card companies or other financial institutions to lay appropriate foundation as to what must be proven. Likewise, if it is a case where there are a number of in person witnesses, such as an assault case or a robbery case, the defense investigations must be catered towards in person interviews regarding direct evidence.

Serious cases, especially serious violent cases, may trigger additional investigations. Those investigations typically cater to the charge and to what elements of the particular charge are issues. For example, if it is an identity case, the defense investigation may go into background and the inefficiency of the identification. If it is a DNA or a blood work case, or case where certain forensic information is examined, such as drugs by the department of forensic science, then investigations go into the reliability of the testing procedures, the protocols and the evidence that was given to the testing.

Benefit of a Criminal Attorney

One of the best resources the defense attorneys have is accessibility of on staff investigators. These investigators have experience in conducting criminal investigations and can do background checks, talk to witnesses, and track down other important information which is helpful.

Other resources include the power to issue subpoena power for witness to appear or subpoena duces tecum for essential documents. This power is extremely important when utilized properly within the Virginia court system.

There are a wide variety of colleagues and resources that are helpful in Virginia criminal defense cases, including trade organizations, such as the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National College for DUI Defense for DUI cases, and other learned colleagues that have experience in criminal procedures and evidence law, and may have encountered similar evidentiary and factual issues before. It is important to use all of these resources that are available.

Process For Beginning a Defense Side Investigation

Our process of investigation depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. Once the facts of the case are analyzed and everything is laid out, a defense attorney may work backward from what the Commonwealth must prove in order to obtain a conviction against the defendant. This includes looking at all the evidence present from the defense’s point of view and looking for any additional evidence that may help the situation.

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