When you have unanswered questions, We Find Answers�.
Our job is to provide you with answers. Whether it’s through our investigative activities or through our informative newsletters, we want you to have the latest and current information. In this edition, we have addressed questions about how to hire a quality private investigator as well as CLE-approved training that we provide. We believe this training is so important that we’re willing to bring it to you and your staff, for FREE and at your convenience.
We want to write about topics that you want to know about and that you are interested in. Please e-mail us your topics of interest at firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage you to share our e-newsletter with others in your sphere of influence.
Your Team at Sterling Investigation
LICENSING LEGAL INVESTIGATORS: What’s the law? (Part one of a series.)
The Internet is awash with ‘private eye’ courses, touting ideas that all it takes to start a ‘detective’ firm is a notepad, a telephone and a few easy online lessons. To the professional legal investigator, this nonchalant disregard for the integrity of the occupation is an outrage.
The professional practice of investigation has come a long way since the days of Sam Spade. In Tennessee, private legal investigators are identified by statute. Title 17, Subtitle 2, Chapter 40 of the Tennessee Code defines the profession as engaging in the business of obtaining and furnishing information about the crimes, wrongs, threats, identity, habits, occupation, property or conduct of one person to another, generally for a fee.
The Tennessee State Police, at the direction of the Tennessee Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies, set the requirements and procedures for obtaining an investigator’s license in Tennessee. Requirements include a minimum of two consecutive years of investigation experience, documented in writing by the company or agency which conducted the investigations, in addition to passing the state board exam.
Before and after an investigator is licensed, the law governs the actions he or she may take. Do you know what the restrictions are? Can an investigator carry a firearm? How about a taser? May she or he make an arrest? Deliver a summons, serve a subpoena or testify in court? Whether you are an attorney, an injured party or the professional conducting the investigation, the legal viability of the investigative work-product is directly related to the investigator’s compliance with the law.
How does an investigator conduct a legal background check? May the evidence gathered by an investigator be submitted in court? And what about fees?
Can an investigator charge on a contingency basis or does the law demand hourly billing? Is it a requirement to have a contract? And what are the consequences to your case if an investigator violates the law?
Rules apply to the ways and means of discovering hidden agendas, nefarious behaviors and covert practices. Today’s professional legal investigator must be familiar with the laws and regulations relating not only to their contracted conduct, but also with laws pertaining to stalking and harassment. Understanding the guidelines that govern certain activities is critical to everyone’s success.
Such comprehensive knowledge does not come without training, and Sterling Investigations provides training that is approved by the Tennessee Continuing Legal Education Board. Our workshop is specifically designed to be presented at your office, for your convenience. Imagine a training day when your speaker comes to you and the program is free.
Professional legal investigators fill a critical void in the justice system.
Our 1-hour CLE workshop — “Hiring and Utilizing a Private Investigator in Your Law Practice” — trains attorneys to know when to use a private investigator and covers the licensing and utility laws which apply to investigative practices in Tennessee.
Attorneys and the clients they represent rely on this service. Make sure your knowledge is sufficient to meet this need. Know what to look for when hiring a legal investigator. Register today for our CLE workshop and feel free to share this invitation to your colleagues. They will thank you!
In future editions of this newsletter we will address more on this topic and encourage you to forward this edition to friends. ~~~
HOW TO FIND THE “RIGHT” LEGAL INVESTIGATOR
The situation is this: Your client is charged with robbery and assault. A significant prison term is on the table and your case hinges on finding a critical alibi witness. What’s the first step you take?
The most important choice any attorney makes on a case-by-case basis is whether to hire a legal investigator. To maximize proactive results, this choice must be implemented from the get-go. The window of prime opportunity is at inception. Top-drawer professional investigators, in order to do their best work, must be involved from the very beginning.
To choose wisely, start by asking yourself about the benefits of utilizing a legal investigator. Do you really have the time required to do the necessary research and follow-up the leads to strengthen your client’s case? A competent legal investigator, trained in the interrogation of uncooperative witnesses, observes body-language and other non-verbal kinesics to detect deception. Are you confident in your own ability to do this?
Once your decision is made to work with an investigator, how do you know which one to choose?
About 98% of the time, attorneys ask colleagues for recommendations. While it is generally a good practice to get a referral before contracting for such complex and discreet service, the Internet can greatly assist you in doing some critical digging, yourself.
Investigators, like attorneys, provide specialized services. Is the case you are working on civil, criminal or a matter of family law? Fraud, wrongful death, elder abuse, computer crime, stalking or pedophilia; surveillance, jury selection, insurance claims, workers compensation or asset search: When seeking legal investigative services, check credentials and ask about specialties.
Start your Internet search using key words specific to your needs and location. For example, “Tennessee divorce investigator”, “Little Rock Investigator” or “Sterling Investigator.” Then use each investigator’s website to check out certifications, experience, philosophy, expertise and results.
To narrow the field, look through your local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau (BBB) listings. Though many investigators are not members of such groups, those who are tend to take their professional reputation very seriously, striving to maintain unimpeachable integrity, and you should feel much more comfortable if the firm you are considering has joined.
When you meet with a potential investigative agency, ask pointed questions: Do they have the equipment and technology necessary to perform the investigative service you need? For example, if your need is surveillance, do they have specialized low-light-digital camera equipment or will they rely on taking snapshots with a cellphone?
Also ask if the firm has conducted investigations similar to what you need done, then listen to the questions the investigator asks about your case. Does he or she take the time to learn the details of your client’s situation? And when you are given a quote for services, does it seem based on sufficient experience to authoritatively express how to achieve success?
In summary, ask pertinent questions, look for direct, responsive and informative answers and, above all else, educate yourself about legal investigative services. One excellent way to do this is through Continuing Legal Education (CLE) workshops.
Here at Sterling Investigations, we are an accredited member of the BBB and we offer a CLE approved course of training in the comfort of your own office: “Hiring and Utilizing a Private Investigator in Your Law Practice.” Designed to answer key questions about working with legal investigators, this 1-hour program explains how to know when it is best to use an investigative service and how find the qualified investigator best suited to your needs.
Also, pass this newsletter along to colleagues and start a conversation about the appropriate use of professional investigative services. When you have questions, call us.
Schedule your CLE workshop. There is no cost whatsoever to you for this program. We freely share this education to ensure the advancement of professional standards and practices in our field. Contact us now to reserve your CLE workshop today. ~~~
Sterling Investigations is a premier investigative agency that provides a wide range of investigative services to legal professionals, businesses and individuals anywhere in the state of Tennessee (plus Oklahoma and Louisiana). We are strong advocates for our clients. We conduct quality investigations and provide clear and concise reports of our findings. Our 35-plus years of hands-on experience and training provide our clients with a reliable work product in which they can have confidence. We go above and beyond the call of duty. Our staff includes a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), an experienced legal investigator, a Certified Law Enforcement Instructor (CLEI), and a paralegal. Our motto is “We Find Answers�” – and that’s exactly what we do!