5 Steps to Using Case Theory in Investigations

The case theory approach to investigations uses analysis, testing, and refining to ensure success. Learn how to use case theory in your investigations.

Posted by Timothy Dimoff in on April 17th, 2019

All investigations require some method of case theory. While most investigators understand case theory, some either do not understand it or do not use it. Failure to use case theory can lead to less-than-ideal results when conducting an investigation.

Steps in Case Theory

Case theory investigation means following some basic steps. These include:

  • analyzing the data to create a hypothesis
  • testing the data against the facts
  • refining the data so you can draw logical and reasonable conclusions

Make sure you start with an informed assumption that is based on the available evidence. Then investigate to either prove or disprove the assumption.

Make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. Download the free Workplace Investigation Follow-Up Checklist.

Good case theory should involve the following steps:

  1. First, take all allegations and complaints seriously. Open a case by responding to these complaints or allegations. This should involve gathering details and other proactive investigation into the who, why, and where of the allegations. Look for patterns or red flags.
  2. Learn the elements of proof for the suspected offense(s). Knowing and understanding the elements of proof for each suspected offense is crucial to being able to test the sufficiency of the evidence. You should know at every stage of the case what evidence you need to obtain to prove an offense.
  3. Investigate and analyze any data and information you gather during your investigation. Evaluate the allegations, examine the complaints, review the facts of the case, conduct interviews, etc. Then compare this to the element of proof for the suspected offense(s). You may need to conduct both internal and external investigations and interviews. This can include third parties, contractors, etc.
  4. Carefully organize and maintain all the evidence you find. Once you complete your investigation, document your findings and prepare a case chronology.
  5. Lastly, prepare a final report. Include any recommendations, administrative sanctions, or criminal referrals. Make sure this report is concise, organized and able to be used as an element of proof for legal reasons if necessary.

Use the Right Investigator

If you feel you are unable to conduct the investigation using case theory yourself or the scope of the investigation is too much for your department, you can hire an outside investigation firm.

They can assist or even conduct the entire investigation for you. This can be an asset to the investigation, as an outside firm that is neutral can make employees or others feel more comfortable during interviews. It can also diminish any implication of bias.


Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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