Don’t Be Accused of Misrepresentation
An investigator’s career depends on maintaining integrity and credibility in the eyes of others. If an investigator’s integrity is in question, his or her effectiveness is compromised, perhaps forever.
An investigator may be accused of misrepresentation by concealing facts or evidence. Sometimes, evidence is missing by accident. When dealing with a particularly difficult fraud case, for example, an investigator may have hundreds, even thousands, of pages of documentation and may miss an important piece of evidence. That’s why investigators must be thorough and cautious.
An investigator has no reason to conceal facts about evidence. After conducting an objective investigation, he or she should be content with laying out the evidence as it is. Whether the truth contradicts an allegation or thoroughly substantiates it should be of no consequence to an investigator. All that matters is discovering and presenting relevant evidence.
One investigator wrote a report, stating that no witnesses corroborated the statement of the subject. However, the investigator missed one witness who was unknown at the time of the investigation. The defense counsel later produced the missing witness and alleged that the investigator lied in his report and purposely withheld the one person who supported the subject’s statement. In fact, the investigator made an honest mistake, but but it was a mistake. If he had asked some other people a couple questions during the investigation, he probably would have discovered the witness. Still, the investigator found himself accused of purposely avoiding an interview with the witness because it would hurt the case.
To avoid allegations of misrepresentation, an investigator should always ask interviewees, including the subject, if they are aware of potential witnesses that may help uncover the facts. Even if they do not reveal other witnesses, the investigator can later demonstrate that he or she asked the question and thus refute allegations of misrepresentation.
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