A legal investigation certificate course provides more skills to someone who is already in the legal field and can kickstart the career of a person who is entirely new to the law. This type of knowledge and skill set is needed in law firms, police departments and district attorney’s offices throughout the country. As a criminal investigator, your job is to investigate the type of case assigned to you to the best of your ability.

What you’ll learn

In this type of course, you’ll learn about the ethics and origins of the legal system in the United States and explore and define legal terminology and the rules of procedure in civil cases. You’ll also get into interview techniques for clients and witnesses, learn how to conduct an investigation, handle evidence, do legal research and get firsthand demonstrations of the guidelines for handling evidence.

Criminal law applications

In criminal law, the legal investigator may visit the crime scene, take photographs of it, talk to witnesses, speak to people related to the case, carry out background and legal research on the people involved, and identify evidence. He or she may also explore the evidence, determine what type of testing needs to be done on it, and decide whether the case needs to be passed onto the district or supervising attorney.

An investigator for law enforcement in a criminal case determines whether a crime has taken place and how the case can be proven in a court of law, while an investigator for a criminal defense attorney may be looking for evidence of a wrongful accusation or conviction for an appeal or ongoing case. Other investigations that legal investigators commonly do in the criminal field include sexual crimes, theft, kidnapping, fraud, homicide and assault.

Civil law possibilities

In civil law, there are many job options for legal investigators. Personal injury firms use investigations that involve the examination of the case to determine how someone was injured, while a worker’s compensation agency has investigations that are focused on uncovering compensation fraud. If someone goes missing, you may be hired to locate him or her. As with criminal investigations, you’ll use a variety of methods that will depend on the specific case and may include background checks, legal research, client and witness interviews, surveillance and other investigation tools.

Family law roles

Legal investigators work for family law attorneys on domestic cases, including divorce, child custody and domestic violence. In a divorce case involving children, you might interview both parents and other people involved with the children to determine what is going on for a custody battle. If one spouse believes the other spouse is cheating, you may be asked to do surveillance on the cheating spouse to catch him or her in the act and provide evidence of it. In an abuse case, you may be tasked with gathering evidence of the abuse.

As you earn your certificate, you should have the opportunity to get a feel for the type of tools you prefer and your investigative strengths and weaknesses, and this can help guide you to your first job. If you find legal research is a strong suit of yours, for example, civil cases may be the right area for you to start your career. Whatever you decide, your new skills and knowledge will help you find your ideal career and excel in your role as a legal investigator.