Introduction to Courtroom Testimony for Private Investigators

(Content Under Development : Coming soon)

Accepted in: NC, SC, TN, KY, NM, KS, GA, IA, MN & OK (approved for 2 hours)

Preparing for an upcoming court date can be intimidating for even the most seasoned private investigator. Prior to entering a courtroom to provide sworn testimony, there are a host of tasks that every investigator needs to perform in order to be best prepared for court. The goal of every private investigator should be to represent their client in a professional manner by being prepared for court with anticipation of questions that may be asked of them during the court proceeding. Simply put, bad planning leads to bad performance. Every investigator should be prepared for a trial. One of the keys to establishing credibility as an investigator is integrity and experience. How does an investigator prepare so they can answer truthfully and objectively? What questions might be asked of an investigator? Is the investigative report complete and comprehensive or will the investigation outcomes seem vulnerable and weak during cross-examination?

In preparation for the trial, an investigator must study the facts so that they may clearly articulate the events that took place during the course of the investigation. An investigator must be able to provide concise answers to questions while remaining objective and impartial.

A private investigator should understand the key players in any case and be prepared for surprise witnesses. Prior to court an investigator may be asked to assist in locating witnesses, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing witness testimony vulnerabilities or the absence of fact. Preparation is essential for an investigator to succeed in court. Investigators can be helpful to attorneys conducting thorough background checks on potential witnesses prior to court. Information gleaned from a background check can identify previous criminal history or previous/pending civil litigation of a witness.

Court preparation can be a time-consuming process in order to have a positive outcome. However, the work has to be effective and efficient. This course will emphasize the importance of careful planning. Understanding and practicing this process is essential to proper preparation for a court date.

Purpose and Goals of Courtroom Testimony for Private Investigators

The purpose of this course is to prepare students for a court appearance. Understanding the importance of vigorous preparation allows an investigator to anticipate potential hurdles throughout a trial. Proper preparation will assist an investigator in overcoming the pitfalls that a case may not be able to endure under aggressive scrutiny. This lesson will include items necessary for an optimum investigation, including identifying all persons present, interviewing all appropriate witnesses, including children, taking good notes and/or recording interviews, documenting statements early, taking photos/video, documenting evidence in place and identifying the finder/seizer.

Learning Objectives of Private Investigator Courtroom Testimony

By the end of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand the appropriate attire for court
  • Identify and Interview witness
  • Establish a rapport with the attorney representing the client
  • Analyze case evidence, Document, Photograph and Record
  • Prepare an Investigative Report
  • Understand the basics of the court system
  • Ethically Respond when asked to appear in Court (Subpoena)
  • Understand Attorney Client Privilege
  • Understand Investigator Client Privacy Expectations
  • Consider the credibility of a potential witness through background checks and social media research
  • Plan and participate in a mock trial in preparation for a court appearance
  • Explain terms typically heard in court for domestic cases and criminal cases

Before the Court Date

  1. Organize court materials
  2. Understanding paperwork
  3. Request accommodations if needed: translator, wheelchair access, interpreter, etc.
  4. Conduct Mock Cross examinations
  5. Have group meetings with other investigators

Aiding a Client & The Discovery Phase

You may be called upon as a private investigator to aid your client in several ways before the court date.

  1. Explain your role to the client and an investigator and manage expectations
  2. Explain to your client what is expected of them
  3. Conduct Background checks and social media research
  4. Identify mitigating factors and aggravating factors of both parties
  5. Compile surveillance footage (Both Raw and Edited)
  6. Gather witnesses
    1. Eyewitness
    2. Expert witness
    3. Character witness

The Players in the Courtroom (and their roles)

    1. Judge
    2. Clerk
    3. Bailiff
    4. Court reporter
    5. The plaintiff
    6. The defendant
    7. Witnesses
    8. Interpreters
    9. Jurors
    10. Attorneys

Trial Structure

    1. Opening statement
    2. Plaintiff’s case
    3. Defendant’s case
    4. Rebuttal
    5. Closing arguments

Conduct on the Court Date

    1. Arrive on time
    2. Dress appropriately
    3. Remain respectful and professional
    4. Silence your cell phone
    5. Be aware of body language – avoid aggressive or dismissive actions (eye rolling, glaring, sharp exhales, or sighing).
    6. Take notes
    7. COVID-19 Precautions and excused absences

Providing Testimony

    1. How to develop a narrative in your testimony
    2. Determining which details to include
    3. Preparing for counterarguments
    4. What items to bring with you on the stand
    5. How to answer questions
    6. Understanding Objectives and when to speak
    7. Understanding Juror conduct and best practices
    8. How to avoid Common Errors

Course Information

Adult Education Methods Utilized

  • Downloadable handouts
  • Narrated slides

Textbook and Course Materials

  • Articles
  • On-demand video
  • Downloadable materials
  • Certificate of Completion

Course Requirements

  • Internet connection (DSL, LAN, or cable connection desirable)
  • Access to the internet
  • Ability to use a personal computer

Course Offerings

  • Certificate of Completion
  • 60-day unlimited course access

Course Structure

This course will be delivered online, webinar or in person through the website. Participants will use website credentials to log in and access their accounts. Participants will access online lessons, course materials, and resources. The course will be broken down into modules for self-paced learning. Access to the course is limited to 60 days. Following the completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of completion for Continuing Education Credits and licensing renewal.

  • This course will be delivered online through a course management website
  • To access this course online, you will need to access the Internet and a supported Web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.

Technical Assistance

If you require technical assistance at any time during the course or to report a problem: