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Posts Tagged ‘Professional Investigations’

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.

 

The Highly Specialized Career of Professional Investigations

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Professional private investigations is a career that many people have a great deal of fascination about. Television and media have often depicted the private investigator as an individual who is a do-it-all, a James Bond type of figure willing to tackle and somehow successfully accomplish any type of mission, assignment, or adversity presented to the character.

In reality, professional investigators give a great deal of thought to what cases they are willing to accept. Effective and responsible investigators know that if a case is outside their area of expertise, there is a greater probability that the results of the case will not be optimal. If you are looking for an attorney to resolve a child custody matter, would you hire the attorney that specializes in bankruptcy law, immigration law, or criminal law? You will likely prefer to hire the attorney who specializes in family law, and maybe even more precisely, child custody matters.

Professional private investigators like, attorneys, have specialties of their own. When potential clients are considering whether to hire a private investigator, I will often advise them against hiring the do-it-all private investigator. The old saying, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ certainly applies to investigations. A person who is considering hiring a private investigator should first identify what needs to be resolved or what information is being sought. The potential client can then begin looking for an investigator who specializes in obtaining the desired information or resolving the person’s matter. When contacting the investigator or investigative agency, do not hesitate to ask if they specialize in a certain area. Also, do not hesitate to ask how much experience they have in a certain area.

Advanced Professional Investigations is occasionally asked about companies that offer and provide professional services unrelated to investigations, and simultaneously have an in-house investigator or an investigations division. While it may seem tempting to go with the ‘one stop shop’ provider, the client should give consideration to a couple of important factors. First, is there a potential for the in-house investigator to have a bias, or could there be a perceived bias if the investigative findings are presented in a legal setting? Second, if investigation is one of many other professional services offered by a company, how much dedication/focus is the company giving to the investigations division of the company?

Advanced Professional Investigations, LLC is proud to be a fully independent, dedicated professional private investigations agency. What does this mean to our clients? API is able to maintain a direct, customer-focused line of communication with our clients. API obtains its information and documentation in a non-biased manner. API’s results always withstand the scrutiny of any perceived bias in a legal setting. Because API is dedicated to professional investigations, API’s investigators frequently attend conferences, courses, and training to keep on the forefront of investigations. API maintains the latest video recording equipment, with features that are designed specifically for professional investigators, not the general public. API was founded on, and continues to be focused on providing the highest quality results to our clients.

Do you have an investigative case request and you’re not sure who to turn to? Give API a call. Rest assured that if the case request is outside of our areas of specialty, we will let you know and will go the extra step of finding an investigator with the specialty you need.

At Risk Clients and Family Law Investigations

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

As professional private investigators, at times we are called in to family law cases to determine if the client is secure. Divorce is very emotional and therefore can be volatile by nature. Although many are settled quietly and respectfully, some divorces can bring out behaviors that may put a client at risk.

 

Advanced Professional Investigations has received calls from family law attorneys representing clients that, after years of abuse, the clients finally have the courage to leave the relationship and start proceedings for divorce. Unfortunately, in some of the cases, the potential for escalation and struggle for control may be present. Actions such as harassment, physical and electronic stalking through the use of texts, emails and GPS tracking devices, begin to both appear and increase.

 

One particular case stands out: a woman had endured years of physical and emotional abuse. She had several young children. She did not have the courage to leave the marriage, nor the support of others. The fact that her home was in a very remote area also meant that police response usually took over an hour.

 

Her isolation was an effective barrier to seeking help. The final beating she endured left her unable to walk for several weeks. Her husband was arrested, ordered to leave the house and had a protection order put into place against him; but amazingly enough, was still given visitation rights with the children. Harassment began immediately in the form of phone calls and texts – then through the children, and even through the children’s friends. She was devastated, and was convinced that she would not make it to the court hearing without physical harm.

 

Her attorney hired API, explaining he felt security measures would be appropriate and that she was afraid for her life. From an investigator’s perspective, we first needed to assess her home and neighborhood for risk factors, and check her vehicles for GPS tracking devices.

 

By the time we had been brought on the case, her soon-to-be ex-husband had already broken the protection order several times by showing up at the home, so his disregard for authority needed to be taken into consideration. Leaving the residence was not an option for her at the time.

 

In assessing the risk factors of her residence, we determined an alarm system was needed. We also pointed out the highest risk areas of entry to the home and called in a lock smith to change all of the locks and codes to the garage. As we considered her case to be high-risk, we assigned armed security at her residence 24 hours a day and conducted anti stalking surveillance. Our presence made a statement, and proved to be a deterrent; during the time we were there, he showed up twice. Each time, we immediately contacted the police and documented his presence. We then worked with the Victims Advocate Unit in the area and the police to ensure her safety, until she was escorted by API investigators to court.

 

A great deal of detail has been left out in this retelling. This has been the most extreme case we ever had, causing  API’s investigators many restless nights. Unfortunately, although extreme, the situation itself is not uncommon in divorces.

 

API can help in assessing the possible risk factors to your clients. Our family law investigators will provide expertise, documentation and recommendations, helping you to better assess your client’s needs in a possible at-risk case.

Investigations Rules

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Unwritten Rules of Private Investigations

What do professional private investigators think about?  Here is a checklist for scrutinizing the investigative process:

The Private Investigator is an Extension of the Client.  Advanced Professional Investigations represents you, the client.  Whether it’s in the courtroom or in the field, we always remain aware of the fact that we are your representatives.  We dress professionally, behave accordingly, and never forget that our credibility stems from the way we present ourselves as your representatives in the aspect of investigations, from the beginning of the case to the end.

The Private Investigator must withstand legal scrutiny.  Legal scrutiny may come from at least three different areas:  the investigator themselves, the investigation process, and the evidence produced.

Investigator:  How well do you know your private investigator?  How well do you know their background?  Do they have anything in their past that may come up on the stand?  Restraining orders, stalking and harassment charges and convictions are just a start of what you should know about your investigator’s past history. Do they have a professional demeanor?  Believability and credibility in the eyes of the judge and jury are dramatically affected by the impression that an investigator creates on the stand.  Could your investigator pass this scrutiny?

Investigations:  The methods of investigating a case may come under intense scrutiny when brought to court.  Legal ramifications must always be at the forefront of a private investigator’s thought processes.  Does your investigator know the differences between surveillance and stalking?  Do they know Colorado’s statute regarding harassment?  Do they understand what ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ entails with regard to a surveillance or other private investigation?  Do they understand the pitfalls of GPS tracking devices and certain types of searches in social media? 

Evidence: In this case, evidence describes any documentation produced for a court case. Examples might be a word document, pdf, video or electronic communication.  Will the evidence stand up in court?  For instance, is there a date and time stamp on the video or photo?  Has any documentation been altered or edited?  Was the evidence obtained in a legal manner?

There are many other considerations that we as professional private investigators must take into account. Where does your investigator fit into the process?

Colorado Surveillance Specialists

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

What defines and distinguishes Advanced Professional Investigations is specialized expertise and ethical standards that set the bar in the private investigator field. What we do and how we do it are core to our mission and working philosophy.

Observe

Whether we’re conducting surveillance or another type of private investigation, our purpose is to observe objectively. Our impartiality is your greatest strength.

Record

We obtain expert video surveillance evidence and audio statements that are recorded professionally and legally. We do not use wiretapping or GPS tracking devices.

Report

The culmination of our observations and recordings are delivered to you in a professional and concisely written report.  No opinions.  No speculation.  No suppositions.  Our objective reports provide you with the facts and support you need to make your best case.

Advanced Professional Investigations is a Colorado owned and operated private investigations company, with highly experienced investigators conveniently located throughout the Denver metro area.

We are Denver surveillance specialists, and for that matter we are Colorado surveillance specialists: we wear that hat proudly. Our private investigators each have 10 to 30 years of field surveillance experience. Field experience has a large impact on your bottom line.

Fast Turn Around – Time is money. The quicker we can turn over the results and completed documentation to you, the better. Upon completion of surveillance we send you the report and video within 48 hours.

Did you know API offers Statements and Interviews?
Interviews help you uncover information from potential witnesses that is critical for litigation and to support the facts for your case. API can provide video or voice recorded statements for your cases that have a legal purpose.

Professionalism and the Colorado Insurance Claims Investigator

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Advanced Professional Investigations seeks to actively educate the public about the necessary role insurance claims investigators play in worker’s compensation surveillance.  Professional and ethical investigators report only facts.  They have no bias in the case.  Professional investigators are mindful of the legalities and understand how to conduct surveillance investigations in ways that are unintrusive. Professional investigators maintain continuous education and training to remain compliant with laws affecting the investigative profession.

API believes the negative perception of  private investigations and its use in worker’s compensation cases stems from the fact that Colorado, until recently, was one of the very few remaining states that did not offer licenses to Colorado private investigators.  To this effect, it is very possible that an insurance claims investigator hired by an insurance company may well have no investigative experience whatsoever.  With no Colorado PI licensing program, it was possible that many of the untrained investigators were naive in the laws, techniques and ethics, which not only could result in a fraudulent or exaggerated claim not being mitigated, but could cause the subject of the investigation unnecessary distress.  API is licensed in Utah and Kansas and is one of the many ways we remain a leader in the private investigative profession. Large national private investigative firms coax insurance companies into signing long term contracts to provide investigative services. Many of these nationwide firms have a reputation of using inexperienced private investigators to claim a presence in Colorado Springs and Denver if not all of Colorado.  How many cases have been lost due to inexperience and unintentional mistakes?

The solution, then, is not to regulate the surveillance conducted on behalf of worker’s compensation or insurance claims agent, but to grant licensure to the private investigative industry in Colorado.  Everyone involved will benefit with the vetting, education and training that will allow clients the opportunity to ensure professional private investigators conduct the serious business of worker’s compensation and other insurance claims investigations.