For Private Investigators and their clients, gathering and processing evidence can prove to be essential towards securing a positive outcome in a multitude of cases. Criminal defense cases may hinge on video, pictures, or records that law enforcement may have overlooked or ignored. Divorce or custodial cases can be decided based on emails, social media posts, and financial records that few inside or outside of the PI field are adept at collecting. In a similar manner, both plaintiffs and defendants in civil suits require an investigator proficient in tirelessly pursuing key pieces of proof to strengthen their client’s case and cast doubt on that of their opposition.
I am always hearing about how hard it is for Private Investigators to gather evidence as opposed to their Law Enforcement counterparts. As you can imagine, I hear this from other Private Investigators and pretty much nobody else. The fact is there is no difference between how evidence is gathered whether it be Law Enforcement gathering it or a Private Investigator. The problem is, many Private Investigators don’t know the procedures for gathering evidence, which is a little disturbing considering the fact that it is far from rocket science! While it may seem overwhelming or intimidating for inexperienced investigators to walk into an establishment and assert their right to collection on behalf of their client, doing so, along with many other strategies for recovering pertinent evidentiary items, are a necessary part of duties of a competent PI.
The Steps to Recovering Evidence
First, every Private Investigator should have a folder of documents for different scenarios that occur in the private investigation business. Now, I am not fond of helping my competition, so I am going to be a little vague here. There are certain documents that every good Private Investigator should have. One document in particular, if worded correctly and communicated correctly upon delivery will either get the person it is delivered to turn over the items for evidence or hold that evidence until the person can be subpoenaed to produce the evidence in court. RMRI, LLC. uses this document quite frequently with great success.
Second, when you have to ask someone if they will release items that can be used as evidence, it is important to know how to ask. You have to be polite, and respectful, but also assertive; you can not appear to be “begging” for these items. The fact is, as an investigator working for an attorney on an active court case; you are entitled to that evidence. Many people you will encounter in these situations will be less than willing to cooperate with you in handing over requested items. This can be challenging but it is important to keep your composer, gauge the situation and person you are dealing with, and respond accordingly. Many times it is more of a burden for them to keep track of these items than to transfer custody to you and not have to deal with that responsibility.
Third, but very important. The evidence that is being sought should be pursued as early as possible. The earlier, the better; the earlier you can get the evidence, the less chance of corruption, destruction, and/or spoliation issues you will have. When an attorney hires a Private Investigator on a case, the first thing the Private Investigator should do is ask the attorney about the case evidence. The questions that the Private Investigator is trying to answer is, “What do we have, and is there more to get?” Witness interviews are potential evidence. Camera footage of the crime scene is potential evidence. If a cell phone is found near the crime scene, that is potential evidence. It is important to get this evidence as early as possible and get it processed. Gathering all of the evidence that you can gather may be what wins the case, or at the very least it will probably give the attorney some leverage for his or her client.
Our Track Record
RMRI, LLC. has had great success in gathering evidence, often time getting it before even Law Enforcement does, when we are called in early on in the case. Most of the time the people holding evidentiary items will turn the items over to us after serving them with the correctly worded document and communicating with them. RMRI, LLC. has had great success helping our clients to win their cases like this, and in one case even get a significant financial settlement from a local city. To read about one of those cases read our Blog series on the David Riley Case, or check the Columbia Missourian’s article about the case.
When the consequences are critical, go with the people that succeed: RMRI, LLC
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