Fraud investigators play an integral role in the course of legal proceedings. Investigators can assist in “filling in the blanks” as attorneys are preparing for trial.  They fulfil many needs, from locating wary witnesses, sifting through potential evidence, or interviewing witnesses. Investigators ensure that legal officers are fully prepared for trial.

One significant role they play is in the discovery procedures. A discovery is the pre-trial stage in a court case during which each side can employ particular methods to acquire information and facts, as well as gather evidence about the case in preparation for trial. It is the principal fact-finding method in the litigation process.

Fraud investigators must work in sync with attorneys to ensure the validity and execution of proper procedure; if this does not occur, the entire legal strategy can be called into jeopardy. Investigators need to be aware of, and follow certain guidelines to accomplish discovery and e-discovery procedures.

The most critical element for fraud investigators to accomplish discovery procedures is to understand the procedures required for the specific legal case. The timetables and approved methods for handling a discovery will vary based on region, as well as from the court it relates to; a particular form of discovery can have different regulations from state to state, and from court to court. There are also substantial and numerous rules governing discovery in each instance. It is essential to understand the rules and court mandates for conducting discoveries. Though there is a broad scope of what may be requested in discovery, there are strict deadlines for requesting discovery and responding to discovery requests. It is very important to be aware of and follow the deadlines because of the potentially serious consequences for non-compliance.

Along with understanding the legal regulations that surround the discovery, investigators need to engage in detailed talks with the attorney prior to beginning the investigation. It is crucial to gather as much information as possible before even beginning activities such as interviews and surveillance. This may seem an obvious point, but many attorneys and clients tend to provide the bare minimum in terms of pertinent information; placing the investigator at a significant disadvantage, as he or she must waste valuable time and resources to uncover information that is easily obtainable by the client otherwise. This can include details such as doctor appointments, marital status, number of children, hobbies, vices, and any other personal attributes of note. Such intelligence at the beginning of the process allows the investigator to gain a clearer view of the subject’s routine and helps establish a better strategy for conducting the investigation. Continued communication throughout the investigation, with new developments and data, is similarly important.

Investigators can also aid attorneys in the discovery process through the nature of their reporting and writing. For instance, an investigator’s surveillance notes should contain clear and concise facts; opinions should not be presented in this writing. As a rule of thumb, investigators should scribe reports and notes as if they expect these documents to be later subpoenaed. All derogatory, discriminatory or inflammatory comments regarding the subject are unprofessional and could potentially place your client at a disadvantage in court. Stick to the facts.

The discovery stage of a legal proceeding is a very good indicator of whether one party will win at trial. It is essential to conduct this stage of the trial with the utmost attention to detail. It is essential for the attorney and the private investigator to collaborate in order to accomplish their intended goals.