Private and Public Criminal Investigation

Private and Public Criminal Investigation

The private and public criminal investigation displays a number of differences and similarities.  The public criminal investigation is conducted by law enforcement officers sworn to be public agents. The officers are government employees paid by the government to conduct the public duties of investigating crimes as they are wrong against the state.  A private criminal investigation is conducted a private professional investigators licensed to carry on the business of a detective agency. The private investigator in all aspects a private citizen and owes no duty of care to the public. Public investigations are conducted within constitutional law constraints. Criminal private investigations are constitutional law constraints such as the Miranda of giving a warning before a statement is made (Levine 1997).  The public criminal investigation is done on behalf of the public whereas the private criminal investigation is done on private person who request any manner of work. The public investigator is bound b the law to report the criminal violations uncovered to the law enforcement while the private investigator is not bound to report criminal violations uncovered to the law enforcement. The public criminal investigations are done by pubic agents who hold public offices and have different levels of chain of command. For example there is the senior public investigating officer who monitors the work of the junior investigating officers.  Thus for the public criminal investigation, there exist a chain of command officers. In private criminal investigation there is no chain command and the private person could be sole owner of his business (Krehbiel 2003). The private criminal investigation could also be conducted by company owners and there is no chain of command. The public criminal investigations have access to the government equipments for use in the investigation whereas the private investigations provide their own equipments including offices and employees.  The public investigators have free access to the government forensic labs where the private investigators pay for services in the government or private forensic labs.   There are also private securities who are agents are paid to perform protective duties to prevent loss which duties are not performed by police. The public agents on the other hand only work maintain public order.

 There are also similarities in both the private and public criminal investigations. The first obvious similarity relates to the nature of their work which seeks to establish facts regarding what transpired in crime scene to be able to identify the criminal. Both the private and public criminal investigation use forensic science in the investigations to figure out what happened in the crime scenes based on the items found which include fibers from clothing, footprints finger prints and drops of blood.  They both help in maintain law and order in the society by uncovering criminal and subjecting them to the law.  Another similarity is that both are bound to ensure that the freedom and rights accorded to the individual are not trampled on. For example they can’t do arbitrary searches and entries during the investigations. They use the same methods of investigation which include matching the DNA and analyzing the finger prints (White 2004).

 There are also situations where the pubic and private criminal investigations interact. The most important is when they seek law enforcing by seeking warrant of arrest. After they both uncover crimes and criminals, they need the law enforcement officer to foresee that the person responsible for the crime is brought to justice. In most of the cases the public investigating agent are the same law enforcement officer and thus the private need to go them to ensure arrest of the criminals. The private investigators can be given the warrant of arrest while the public prosecutor has access to warrant of arrest. Both types also interact during prosecution whereby they may both hand over to the public prosecutor who conducts the prosecution process. The private investigator is not bound however to report to the la enforcement agencies once they uncover crimes.  thus the common scientific method used by both private and public criminal investigator are identification of substances in the crime scene, collecting the substances from the crime scene and carrying them to the scientific labs where an analysis is done. For example they collect, analyze and identify finger prints which are unique for each person.

Most Cases that that are highlights aspects of both private and public criminal investigations relate to theft. A victim of a housebreaking may have private reasons for hiring a private investigator.  For example the victim could be suspecting his close friends to have been involved in the matter. In this case he would want to protect the friendship by not revealing anything to the police until he ascertain the suspicions. Thus he will hire a private criminal investigate who is professionally qualified to do the investigation to ascertain if his case friends could be involved. This matter would also be subject to public criminal investigation. Any crime committed is committed against the state. Thus if the police were in called to the scene of the crime after the house breaking they will start their own investigations since a wrong as been committed against the state. They will call for the people who were there to make statements which would help them with the investigations. They do this in pursuance of the duty to maintain law and order in the society. The private investigator on the hand will be seeking to establish if the friends of his clients were involved and only reports to the client whatever he uncovers.

The public investigators cross their jurisdiction if they don’t act within the constraint of the constitution. For example if they don’t give the Miranda warning to a person before they take statements they are crossing jurisdiction. They may also cross jurisdiction if they act in excess of powers. There is a chain of command for public investigators and thus the public agents must work with the authority bestowed to them. They may cross even physical boundaries when they are not authorized by their seniors and this amounts to crossing jurisdictions (Smith 2008). Both public and private investigators cross jurisdictions when during the investigation they limit the freedom and rights that their suspects are accorded in the constitution. For example they would be crossing jurisdictions if they did arbitrary search.  The private investigators may cross their jurisdiction if they do what is beyond their client have hired them to do.  For example they may be hired to investigate if specific person was involved in a crime yet they go ahead and act in excess of their powers and investigate other person. They cross jurisdictions if they investigate crimes other than which they were authorized by the client.


White, H (2004). The scientific methods of criminal investigation.  United States. Rowman and Littlefield.

Krehbiel, T. (2003). Differences and similarities of private and public criminal investigations. Upper Saddle River. Prentice Hall.

Smith, K. (2008). A study of criminal investigation. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Levine, D. (1997). The criminal procedure. New York. Irwin.

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