An investigative assistant provides various types of support to law enforcement and government agencies. This support usually involves gathering and analysis of information needed to assist in the investigation and prosecution of various civil and criminal cases. The daily duties of an investigative assistant don't require a college degree, but may include gathering evidence, conducting interviews and locating witnesses. An investigative assistant must have knowledge of the various regulations and procedures of the agencies that conduct criminal investigations. Other duties include accessing certain places or areas and working during odd hours in any type of weather.
Some investigative assistants function well in their jobs without the benefit of a college degree, however, there are a number of employers who prefer those with the training and education that comes with a bachelor's degree in criminology, law enforcement, criminal investigation or related area of study. Some have worked up through the ranks of law enforcement, learning the finer points of the legal and practical aspects of criminal investigation while working on the job. Investigative assistants must be fully aware of the legal requirements for gathering evidence and submitting it through proper channels. Some of the more mundane aspects of this job may involve locating and interviewing witnesses or other people connected with an investigation. Good communication and people skills are required when working with witnesses, perpetrators, or law enforcement officials in the course of an investigation.
Following proper legal procedures is one of the essential requirements of any criminal investigation. If the work of an investigative assistant is conducted improperly or outside of established legal parameters, the usefulness of the information obtained could be compromised. Investigative assistants must be aware of the legal rights of citizens, the proper techniques for interrogating witnesses, and the limits of investigative techniques under a specific jurisdiction. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors as well as government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) all require the services of an investigative assistant.
Along with providing assistance with routine investigations, an investigative assistant may also need an aptitude for researching and locating specific types of information from sometimes obscure sources, such as law enforcement databases, utility records, directories, Internet sources, and public or private agencies. Other duties may include serving subpoenas or delivering other types of legal documents, keeping a record of positive identification of those served, and even conducting certain types of surveillance. An investigative assistant may need to provide testimony in court to support any investigative activities associated with a particular case. Another important part of this job is maintaining records of all these investigative activities, preparing the associated reports, and writing any necessary correspondence. Working anytime, day or night, and even on holidays may also be required.