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Posts Tagged ‘Background Checks’

Legal Basis in Family Law Investigations

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Private investigators oftentimes have the stigma of taking on any case for any reason. Advanced Professional Investigations has worked hard to change that perception through educating the public and clients on what a professional investigator does and how we think. We do, however, still get the calls from individuals that want their husband or wife followed to see if they are cheating or find out if we can bug their cell phone or computer. In our office, the protocol is to determine if the case has a legal basis or is purely need to know. As Colorado is a no-fault state for divorce, the only time we accept a domestic case is if there is an attorney involved and if the attorney feels our help is not only warranted, but also beneficial to their legal case. Locating assets, determining employment of a parent that has stopped paying child support, conducting background checks on questionable individuals that spend time with the children, and obtaining evidence of drug or alcohol use during visitation are just a few of the examples where the case may have a legal basis in order for us to accept a case. Our findings are then turned over to the family law attorney to ensure the information will be utilized in the proper manner. As family law cases/domestic cases can be extremely volatile with emotions running high, it is important to us that our findings will only be used in a legal setting.

Another reason we typically don’t accept family law cases without legal representation is that family law cases are often very emotionally-charged and volatile. Attorneys tell us these cases require a lot of patience and guidance. When taking on family law cases, our policy is to ask for a conference call so we can determine what information the attorney is looking for during the course of the investigation. Many times the client has ideas on what they would like done based on what they have seen on TV.  These requests may be above the legal scope of what we can do as investigators and may actually hurt the case. Communicating with the attorney helps keep the case on the right track. On the investigative end, it ensures the case is worked with results that will support the case in a legal setting, instead of fueling emotionally-based requests.

 

Documenting the Dynamics of Parenting Time

Friday, November 4th, 2016

divorce-pic

Like adults, children can have biases particularly in regards to their parents. Those biases are affected even more so in contentious divorces where struggles for parenting time become an emotional tug of war.

Emotions on the part of the client makes a family law attorney’s job even more difficult in determining whether concerns of the child regarding the other parent are being accurately described. Concerns for safety and the overall well-being of the children are sometimes in question and need to be taken seriously.

In addition to being helpful in determining whether drug or alcohol use is a factor during parenting time, having an accurate picture of the dynamics of the relationship can influence modification of that time. Although there may not be evidence of alcohol or drug use during visitation time, is there question of such in the hours before the child exchange? We at Advanced Professional Investigations have had cases in which we’ve documented subjects that have consumed alcohol immediately prior to a child exchange. Who is spending time with the children? Are background checks on individuals spending time with the children warranted? Unfortunately, we have had cases where new love interests or babysitters have had questionable backgrounds. Are the children being left unattended? Video documentation via surveillance can be crucial to a child custody case. Are the children in a healthy, stable, and safe environment is the ultimate question in parenting time or custody cases. There may also be a question of “quality time”. Is the other parent spending their time with the child or children or do they simply go about their daily business and leave the children in the care of others?

What are the children’s behaviors while they are spending time with that parent? Are they happy and seem content, or do they appear hesitant and fearful during their visitation?

Besides parenting time, questionable employment that would be detrimental to the emotional or physical well-being of the children may need to be answered. Is the subject working at a bar and taking the children with them during their shift for example?

Surveillance can be used to document questionable behaviors in an objective manner, providing the family law attorney with necessary information to proceed in the best interest of their client, or at times put the parent at easy knowing their child or children are well looked after while in the other’s care.

Limit Your Liability Using Investigators

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Choose an investigator who is insured. An investigator with sufficient insurance will prevent liability from falling back on the client if an investigation goes wrong. Does your investigator carry commercial automobile, professional liability and errors and omissions?

Choose an investigator who is licensed. A licensed investigator has been shown to be qualified, vetted and demonstrated a minimum amount of experience to the state in which he or she is licensed. A licensed investigator eases the burden of due dilligence on the client. Clients can be assured that a licensed investigator’s testimony at a hearing will not be disqualified due to felonies or other questionable histories in their background.

Ask the investigator you use whether the information/documentation they provide will be able to withstand the scrutiny of opposing counsel. Is the information accurate, factual and unbiased? Was the information obtained in a legal manner? Information is of no benefit in a legal setting if it cannot withstand the scrutiny of a judge and cannot be entered into evidence for a case.

Do your investigators adhere to applicable laws during the process of an investigation? Do they know which laws apply to them? Does the investigator use “baiting” methods by contacting represented claimants, gather information that is clearly private and are they aware of the difference between surveillance and harassment/stalking? Investigators who do not take into consideration trespassing, reasonable expectation of privacy, FCRA compliance, etc will surely increase liability to their clients. For insurers, an improper investigation can even increase the risk of bad faith claims.

Ask your investigator if the equipment they use can withstand legal scrutiny. Was a GPS tracking device improperly/illegally used on your case? Will the video equipment be able to display date and time stamped video footage?

Limit your liability in the workplace by conducting background checks on potential and current employees. Do they have, domestic violence, drug or DUI charges, stalking/harassment issues or other questionable records in their backgrounds?

With current employees, conducting employee misconduct investigations can reveal drug/alcohol use on the job, theft of equipment/material items, time theft, disgruntled employee harassment and other issues in the workplace. These issues can lead to increased liability.

Make sure your investigator is aware that he/she is a representative of you, the client. Know your investigator and do not tolerate investigator misconduct with your cases. Your investigator should conduct themselves in a professional manner from beginning of the case to the end. Does the investigator reflect well on you in a legal setting? Believability and credibility in the eyes of a judge and jury are dramatically affected by an investigator who is professionally dressed and conducts themselves in a professional manner.