Want to Give Your DUI Defense Attorney an Edge? Discuss Using a Private Investigator



Can money make a difference in a Driving Under the Influence case? Sometimes. Maybe. How? … When?

When you need a private investigator.

In a Driving Under the Influence case, money can hire the best defense oriented forensic toxicologist to testify in court (expert witness), it can pay for the subpoenas to collect business records and Caltrans traffic cam videos, and it can pay for a private investigator to bring out exculpatory evidence.

What is “exculpatory evidence”? Evidence that is helpful to the Defendant.

Private investigators can be used by the defense in any criminal case.

They are not free, or included in teh usual defense attorney fee agreement. However, they can be very helpful, even if you decide to not use whatever it is they find.


What sorts of things can a private investigator find that is helpful to a DUI defendant?

A common use of private investigators by defense attorneys is that of collecting witness statements. A private investigator is a perfect defense tool for getting that bar tender’s statement documented, or maybe a statement from that passenger friend, or maybe a statement from the nurse that took your blood against your will.

Private investigators are great for documenting witness statements, because after they document a statement, they can testify in court for the defense if the witness contradicts their previous statements in court, or suddenly disappears according to the prosecutor.

(It happens)

A DUI Defense Attorney can use Private investigators to collect or take photographs of a scene, intersection, or property damage. They can also be used to research complaints about police officers, find witnesses, serve subpoenas, and talk to the business owner who has that surveillance video of your roadside sobriety tests that you think you passed.

There are many other ways a Defense Attorney can use a private investigator to build up a case prior to trial. Even if there ultimately is no trial, a private investigator’s work product with some exculpatory evidence can also give a defense attorney leverage in plea negotiations.

Many DUI defense attorneys will not bring up the topic of a private investigator with their clients.

Sometimes this happens because they assume the client does not have the money, and sometimes it might happen because the attorney actually hopes the case ends early to maximize profits.


So next time you talk to that defense attorney, if you have the means, you might consider asking “would it be helpful if we hired a private investigator?”. Get the discussion going and make a reasoned decision.

Questions? Leave a reply.

About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
This entry was posted in Arguing in Court, Defense Attorney Tactics, Defense Attorneys, DUI Information, Misdemeanor and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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