Witness statements have three primary purposes:
- To investigate the facts of a case and develop pertinent and valuable information
- To record a witness’ recollections or statements to preserve them for further use in the courts
- To document testimony about issues in question, in case of the possibility of witness tampering or a potentially hostile witness. The original witness statement holds the most weight in a court of law
The most important function of all professional investigators is to gather facts, and witness statements are one of the primary forms of fact gathering we employ. There are a number of forms of witness statements, and they can all be used in criminal and civil court cases. Among the forms of witness statement, you’ll find:
- Handwritten statements by witnesses
- Affidavits taken on site or in our offices
- Tape recorded statements
- Videotaped statements
- Statements written by investigators and signed by witnesses
Statement gathering becomes much more elaborate and difficult when it comes to dealing with a reluctant or hostile witness. Our operatives have to balance their role as investigators with that of statement recording, always keeping the legality of the situation in mind. If a witness statement is gathered in an illegal or dishonest manner, it isn’t likely to stand up in court. This wastes the client’s time and money, and makes the statement essentially useless.
Operatives must be careful when gathering witness statements from subjects who are not ready to provide a coherent recollection of events. When a statement is read in court, in most cases it will be entered into evidence in its entirety. Witnesses who provide contradictory statements, or who pepper their statement with obvious lies, can do more harm than good to your case.
Court rules state that attorneys can not pick and choose parts of witness statements to use, and must employ the entire document when using it as evidence. Those witness statements that include parts that help as well as parts that hinder a case are perhaps less than useless, and shouldn’t be used as evidence. Savvy professional detectives know how to deal with this situation.
Our operatives have the training and experience to know how to conduct a witness interview to elicit the most favorable responses. By narrowing the focus of the interview, an investigator can provide a document that offers evidence to enhance your court case without adding contradictory statements. They can do their own investigation on a case and will preserve their own case notes and observations as evidence to be used in court. These observations, coupled with a focused witness statement, can provide the ideal evidence you need to win a civil or criminal court proceeding.