A police officer will still have a job, even if he or she habitually mixes past and present participles, but if a private investigator does not have a firm grasp of the English language will not be a private investigator for very long.
- Take notes on everything that you do. Private investigators are essentially professional eye witnesses, preparing to testify from the minute they start investigation.
- Document every effort to contact a witness and all surveillance in the running resume. The running resumes meant to capture and share information that falls in the chasm between notes and reports, like a diary.
- Prepare a report whenever there is a reasonable possibility that you will have to testify.
- Take verbatim statement from hostile or unhelpful witnesses; obtain declarations from friendly witnesses.
- Provide all the cases documents to the client at the conclusion of the case or have a document retention policy decrease the maintenance of most records for at least five years.
Grammatical and other non-substantive mistakes do matter in reports. Your client, judges, and other investigators will notice if you make a mistake.
There is no valid legal reason to purposely avoid documentation in any investigation in the private sector.
Emailed reports should never take the place of a formal report and they should not be used correspond with witnesses.
Investigator should never make their clients sift through this information, like video or audio files, to determine what it is and is not relevant. Therefore your digital media should require additional documentation.
The attorney-client privilege extends to investigators.
The scope of confidentiality is limited. This means there must be a legal action and an attorney involved. Without that there’s no confidentiality.
All investigative reports in tended to be kept privileged should include a header “attorney work product.” You should institute a formal policy for transmitting information and documentation intended to be kept confidential two attorneys in a secure and consistent manner.
But investigator should take notes about everything he or she does including, interviews and surveillance.
- Always bring along at least two pens and a clean legal pad.
- Learn to listen and observe first, and then take notes afterward.
- Understanding what details are going to be needed later while you were actually conducting the interview makes it much easier to write the most thorough report possible. think proactively and ask the right questions. You should focus on dates, times, full names, and proper names.
- Develop your own system for abbreviations.
- Review your notes immediately after the activity.
A running resume as a shared document or software system sort of like a journal where investigators working on a case provide brief status updates concurrent with each effort made to complete the case is individual tasks.
- Add a notation to the running resume for interviews, attempted interviews and surveillance.
- Update your running resume daily.
- Always include biographical information about the subject or subjects of the update.
- Send updates to clients when a task was completed successfully or if it was a failure.
- Use a template and a style guide book.
- Name the report in a way that it can be easily identified later.
- Clearly indicate the reports author and recipients.
- Type the witnesses biographical information in the first paragraph.
- For witness interview report, also include an identification disclaimer paragraph. For example, “after being advised of the identity of the interviewer and the nature of the investigation,”
- Assume that the reader does not know anything about the case or how to investigate.
- Do not draw conclusions or make assumptions.
- Show your work.
- Address any unanswered questions upfront.
- Have report reviewed and edited by third-party prior to sending it to the client.
The difference between affidavits and declarations is that an affidavit must be signed and sworn to before notary public, while declarations do not require a notary seal.
- Take sworn verbatim statements from hostile or unhelpful witnesses. *use double spaces for corrections.
- Draft declaration is for affidavits for friendly witnesses.
- Pick an advantageous location. Interviews should typically be held in the investigative office, however restaurants make great locations. For statements, have a laptop and printer ready.
- Avoid creating drafts.
- Take the best that you can get under the circumstances.
Maintain records for at least 5 years.
- Give reports, statements and relevant third-party records to clients immediately.
- Create a simple filing system for storing information during an ongoing investigation.
- Establish a routine policy for document retention and communicate this with clients.
- At the conclusion of the case, move all files to inactive status.
- Execute your policy after the retention periods Has been concluded.
- Be mindful of special ethical concerns in retaining criminal offense records.