Ethics Codes

The black-letter ABA Prosecutorial Investigations Standard 26-1.2 requires that “criminal investigations are not based upon premature beliefs or conclusions as to guilt or innocence but are guided by the facts.” In his landmark article, “Ethics for Investigators,” Arthur Aubry similarly wrote:

“The ethical investigator will maintain at all times a completely objective attitude and impersonal approach towards his investigative duties and responsibilities; he will concentrate all of his skills and energies towards securing the truth of the matter under investigation.”

Ethics codes consistently require investigators to do their work in an impartial, fair, and honest manner:

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police:
    • Law Enforcement Code of Ethics: “As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.” [emphasis added]
    • Canons of Police Ethics: “The law enforcement officer shall be concerned equally in the prosecution of the wrong-doer and the defense of the innocent. He shall ascertain what constitutes evidence and shall present such evidence impartially and without malice.”
  • Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council: “The fundamental philosophical assumption upon which all CDITC policies are predicated is that the criminal defense investigator must be an impartial and objective seeker of truth.”
  • World Association of Detectives: “We will be faithful and diligent in carrying out assignments entrusted to us, and to determine the true facts and render honest, unbiased reports in reference thereto.”
  • National Council of Investigation and Security Services: “A member shall observe, and adhere to the precepts of honesty, integrity, and truthfulness.”
  • National Association of Legal Investigators: The investigator “Will make all reporting based upon truth and fact and will only express honest opinions based thereon”
  • Council of International Investigators: Members agree to “conduct myself in my profession with honesty, sincerity, integrity, fidelity, morality and good conscience in all dealings with my clients.”
  • California Law Enforcement Code of Ethics: “I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will…”