Court Records And Where They Are Kept

Only a handful of online resource sites actually conduct a complete and comprehensive background check. In this episode, Jonathan Kraut informs us regarding the background check process and how records are kept so that we may better determine if these representations are accurate or deceptive. Knowing the court records process and how items are segmented will often help protect someone from making fatal decisions regarding who to hire, who to engage as a tenant, or who to trust. Learn from Jonathan as he gives us some tips on how we can properly request for data and understand the accuracy of such details.

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Court Records And Where They Are Kept

How To Tell If The Statement “All Our Folks Are Background Checked” Is Authentic

This is episode 16, How Court Records Are Kept. Why would you care how court records are kept? Essentially, if you want to find out about someone’s background, their history, whether it’s for tenant screening, trying to identify a caregiver for your child or your parent. Trying to hire someone to bring into your office setting or whether it’s to do business with them, you do want to know what the public record says about their history. Their history contains criminal records, civil and abuse records and other documents and information that are valuable to making your decision as to whether you want to have that person renting property from you, working with you and your staff, caring for a loved one and so forth.

Court Jurisdictions On Doing Background Checks

Net Check Investigations by the way, is licensed under California as a PI number 21529 and we’re an agency that’s been in business over twenty years. First, let’s define what court jurisdictions pertain to doing a background check and getting information from the court. There are federal courts, which is one entire system to itself. There are districts in the court and court information is usually available through subscribers like my firm. I believe we first started subscribing in 1995 and our number is 0142. That’s pretty early in the game. There are state often called Superior Courts. There are County courts, which are more localized. In some cases like Louisiana, they don’t have counties in Louisiana. They have parishes. Finally, we have local magistrate and municipal courts.

Each court system is more and more localized as I went through the list and is a separate index, meaning they’re typically not related to other indexes. Within the court system, there are also segmenting court indexes by case type and I’ll explain. Criminal cases are usually kept in one set of data and files in the court system. Civil cases, typically we call upper civil cases like lawsuits, defamation, damages and major car accidents. Those upper civil cases are segmented into different database in the court. Lower civil cases, which are usually including small claims cases, unlawful detainers, which are eviction notices and minor claims are kept in a separate index system.

Non-Court Index Systems

Property records are kept in a fourth index system, usually by the County recorder. Family law cases are yet another index system and also probate, which is the moving of assets or property after someone passes away to others. Probate court is not pertaining in typical situations to employment or tenant screening or caregiving. Probate is a different system. We have generally 5, 6 or even 7 different indexes at each court. Let’s define non-court index systems. A non-court index system could include entities like state and federal prison where inmate populations are kept in an index system, a data system that’s not at the court or cannot be accessed at the court. That also may include probation and parole indexes who has been released from custody and are they on probation or parole?

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Arrest and sheriff detainee indexes. The sheriff’s departments have their own set of inmate identifiers and inmate indexes, which are not kept at the court. FBI, sex offender, terrorists and no fly indexes. Each of these are separate indexes. Some are kept by the federal government and some are maintained by international enforcement agencies, but usually the FBI is the one that’s going to have this information. A sex offender index is, by the way, are an accumulation of state indexes and could be accessed sometimes in one national system. Typically, many of those states are not online at that time so often you’ve got to go look each state by state in addition to the national system. There is also FACIS, which to be brief is a medical set of indexes and information that are kept at the federal level or by private systems or by the Office of the Attorney General, healthcare providers, medical facilities, welfare fraud and prescription fraud. They are usually we call the FACIS System, which is a separate index of misconduct relating to medical healthcare and prescription fraud and abuse.

Finally, there are credit reporting agencies and private information systems, which are on a private index, which gathers information constantly. Normally, there’s about a 30 to 60 day lag time and no people are actually typing all this information up. It’s done by computer. It’s part of what helps your credit report be created. It’s part of what helps your tracking of what we call skip tracing, where you’ve lived, your addresses and associations. These are non-court index systems. There are many and I’d say probably ten that might be appropriate to relating to whether someone should be trusted or not. Is there one place to look? That’s a question that as a private investigator, I get asked a lot, “Why can’t I push a button and find out everybody’s history that’s relevant to what I want?”

Instant Background Search Concept Is A Failure

As I described, there are about twelve different substantial areas where information is contained that’s relevant to whether you can trust someone or not. There are about twelve different indexes and systems that need to be accessed to identify whether someone can be trusted or not. No, there’s not one place to look. The idea that you can push a button and get an instant search with all the relevant information is not possible. Information is kept in different systems, in different indexes by different entities and therefore, it’s not possible that one can push a button and get all this information at once. Indexes must be accessed separately and individually. I’ll give you an example of how our instant background search concept is a failure.

The FBI, for example, does under the Brady Bill a search for backgrounds to sell a gun and sometimes ammunition. If somebody wants to buy a gun, information is put into the system and the system is a composite of state self-reporting data. States report independently and then the FBI puts it all together and runs an index. States are contributing elements of a phone book to a master phone book. The problem is that not most, but many misdemeanors are not in that system. Domestic violence, unlawful carrying of weapons and abusive behavior is sometimes kept in a civil system and therefore, the FBI doesn’t see it. They don’t have it. You can’t blame them. They don’t have that information on hand in many cases.

Court Records Archive: There’s not one place to look that can identify whether someone can be trusted or not. The idea that you can push a button and get an instant search with all the relevant information is not possible.

Also, counties don’t always send information in a timely way. We have that example of an individual who bought a gun because nobody looked in the criminal index and civil index of the county that he came from. That county did not report that information and the FBI did not see it. Many domestic abuse issues are not in the criminal system and are not reported to the feds. Because it’s organized differently county by county, state by state, and some counties for example, LA County, can rarely be accessed online. Someone has to go to the court and look it up. They have to type in one search as a family law case, one search as a civil case and then another search as a criminal case. There are three different processes for LA County and many counties in California are the same.

Some must be accessed in person. You cannot do it online. Therefore, if many counties in one state are like that, imagine nationally the 5,800 counties, how many are not online, how many are only accessed in person. That’s why there’s not one place to look. Somebody has to go through search county by county, state by state and processes like a good search would be done. Many cases are also archived and destroyed. There are archives, which in many cases are older than 10 or 12 years, but some might be relevant to what you’re looking for. That’s not in an index system either. That’s got to be searched by hand.

The FCRA, which is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is a federal act. Every state has adopted a version for that state has reporting requirements. Let’s say that we’re optimistic and we believe that we can push a button and access every index in every county, both court and non-court at the same time, simultaneously in real time. Let’s say that was true. In fact, even then the FCRA requirements are that certain things happen. Number one, cases have to be verified. If a computer generates a possible case number and a name, you still have to check with the court to verify the date of birth is correct and possibly other identifiers like Social Security number is correct.

Another requirement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is that reports must be available and free upon request to the subject. The subject, the person whom we are checking as for the report, you can’t send to them a large, five-page document of possible hits and possible cases. There has to be some written up, what we call an abstract or a summary of what the case pertained to and that a computer is not going to write that up for you. Plus, the subjects of these investigations have a right to challenge. The computer will not give you the right to challenge a case. There are times where the information provided is inaccurate and the person has a right to challenge it. There should be a way to identify the person who performed the search. The FCRA reporting requirements will often if challenged require that the maker, the credit reporting agency, the maker of the case or the document in our case a PI firm, would have a person that could describe, how did they conduct the search? What did they use? What name, date of birth and Social were accessed and so forth?

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A computer won’t do that and instant search won’t be able to identify the person that performed the search because a computer performed the search and nobody actually performed the search. You can’t bring a computer to court to be cross-examined as to how the search was conducted. Support documents are to be retained. An example is, we’ll do a search in a county and we’ll find several cases. Some could be misconduct like civil abuse, harassment and domestic violence. Some might be criminal like attempted murder, possessing a weapon, trespassing and vandalism. We want to have those documents available, the source documents from which we wrote the abstract to be used in cases of challenge or to provide to the person who asked for it as part of their free right to get a report.

Turnaround Time

Turnaround times, how long does this process take? Typically, we would say three business days is the appropriate turnaround time. Since many courts require a live visit, a person would go in. Normally somebody, when a request is made, does not sit at the court in the lobby waiting for an email or text so they can run into the court and look it up. Normally as what we do with our network of agents, which are in every county and every court we give them a list, they go in the next day with the list and do that search that day. They send back the results that day. We then take a look at it in our main office, we write an abstract and maybe we have questions for the clerk, we’ll call the clerk and verify some information. That’s the third day.

It takes typically three days to handle and prepare these reports. Many courts require paid subscriptions. We have live access to a lot of states and a lot of data, but we’ve got to pay each time we access. Sometimes if for example, we were a new company and we didn’t have access to every county in every state, we would have to set up an account. That may take a couple of weeks to get approved, to show our license to prepay and so forth. Normally subscriptions don’t delay an organization that already has these set up. Some courts will leave a list and come back 2 or 3 days later to get the information from the clerk. The clerk will run the search, we won’t and that typically would be 3 to 5 days. That’s pretty rare that we go beyond five, but I’d say again three.

How Background Search Is Conducted

Finally, some jurisdictions require a phone call to verify the name and date of birth. Some courts have restricted access. We’ve got to go through the process of proving to them that we have a permissible purpose, which is a Fair Credit Reporting Act term that we’re allowed to get that information. The quick answer is three days. How searches are conducted? Criminal searches are typically conducted by name and date of birth. Civil searches are conducted by name, especially using a middle name. We had a very common name, I believe in LA County, there were 1,100 cases with that common name, but because we had a middle name, we could reduce the possibilities to about six cases. We didn’t actually go and pull each case file and open it up and read, but we could have and so we reported to the client based on where this person lived. Knowing their residential history based on them being married or not married and based on what we know, we reduced the possibility from 6 to 3. We said, “It’s highly likely but not for certain that these three civil cases apply to this individual.”

Court Records Archive: The courts have ruled that if you do a local report or an instant search or very narrow report, you’re missing valuable information that you don’t pay for but you don’t check.

If the individual wanted to challenge it, we would probably have to go to the courthouse itself, wherever the file was kept. Order the file, go back another day because the file is kept in a basement or in a storage room. Read the file and try to see if the addresses and information in the file match. Again, civil cases are typically not kept by date of birth, only by name and sometimes by address. Civil cases often, if there is significant need to be searched by hand to get identifiers from the actual file. Private data systems use name, Social, date of birth and home address. If we skipped someone, the more of that we have, the better, the more accurate our search will be. The FBI and live scans, which is a fingerprint scan by a state is by name, date of birth and fingerprint, but mostly by name and fingerprint. You’ve got common denominators. Name is important, date of birth is important and generally their Social or last known address is important.

Types Of Reports Generated By Agency

What types of reports can be generated by your agency? When we say agency, we mean the credit reporting agency. A local report, I would have that person probably search local only that one county because you’d know that they’ve only been in that one county. A geographic area report, for example, a statewide report where that person’s lived in several counties in that state. As far as you know, he never lived outside that state. A criminal history report, which is any criminal record in any relevant county in any state including federal, FBI, sex offender, terrorist and no-fly list. That’s a criminal history report. A civil misconduct history report which is anything civil, family, domestic, elder abuse, child abuse, stalking and civil harassment are not kept usually in the criminal system. They are kept in the civil system.

To be honest, the best report is what we call a comprehensive misconduct report, which is criminal history, civil misconduct history nationally all in one document. The courts have ruled that if you do a local report or an instant search or very narrow report, you’re missing valuable information that you don’t pay for but you don’t check. The rule of thumb is that an instant search will give you about 20% of the information out there and it’s about 20% of the costs of a comprehensive misconduct search. There is also something called a due diligence search or due diligence report. This is more for partners or key executives being hired by a company. We want to look for property, bankruptcies, liens, judgments and physical assets in addition to a comprehensive misconduct history report.

How do you get started? First, you want to identify what are your needs? Are you going to be renting to someone? In that case, some things that I mentioned are not relevant. If there are children in the building or nearby, you want to have a sex offender search, you want to do a criminal record search. I would look for a misconduct search because there are children, maybe elderly that have been abused. That again would be indexed in a civil system, not a criminal system. Second is I would consult with different credit reporting agencies, different either PI firms or data brokers to see if they have something that can be tailored to your needs. Third, I would select a reasonable budget. A reasonable budget means, you get what you pay for. I would say a comprehensive misconduct search might run over $150, which includes every name, Social, date of birth they’ve ever used in every county and every state they’ve ever been in for both misconduct and criminal. That’s the typical price.

A comprehensive criminal record search only probably runs around $75, maybe $100. You want to make sure that your credit reporting agency tailors to your needs. I would suggest not to try to fit into what they have, but to have them fit into what you need, then you will only pay for what you need. You want to find a reasonable turnaround time and you want to clarify the reporting process. Three days is a reasonable turnaround time and a reporting process could be by email or by text when it’s complete. Usually email is the best way. I wouldn’t mail reports out, although we can and we do have confidential ways of sending email. They cannot be hacked or traced. That may be a good manner for you to communicate.

The main thing is that you have some system in mind as to how you and your credit reporting agency will share information. I hope that was helpful. My staff and I are always willing and ready to help out. If you have any questions, give us a call. We can be found at We have other podcasts and blogs available if that can be helpful to you. There are a myriad of subjects that relate to domestic violence, to self-protection and to investigation work. Remember, information is power. Good decisions start with great information. We’re here to help you. Thank you for reading.

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The Value Of Surveillance

Court surveillance is an extremely valuable resource for many court actions, whether criminal, civil, domestic, or family law. Shedding light into the value of doing surveillance in a private or secretive manner, host Jonathan Kraut guides us into the world of information collection. He taps into the kinds of admissible evidence and some of the rules by which the collection procedures are governed. Ultimately, a good private investigations firm can aid in navigating the waters of most legal battles, and Jonathan lets us in on how they make sure covert surveillance is court-admissible.

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The Value Of Surveillance

Making Sure Evidence Collected Covertly Is Court Admissible

The topic of this episode is The Value of Surveillance. Let’s define surveillance. Surveillance is essentially some manner or method of reviewing or recording activity. Surveillance can be covert or overt. Overt means out in the open, everyone can see and it’s obvious you’re conducting surveillance. Covert means secretive, private, unseen, hidden and so forth. Why would we do surveillance? What is the point of that? What’s the issue with surveillance? First, surveillance is often conducted by investigators to identify unfaithful conduct, especially for marital issues and relationships. Surveillance can also detect deceptive behavior.

What Is Surveillance

For example, a business partner says, “I’m going to a conference in Vegas.” In fact, they don’t go to a conference in Vegas. They’re doing something else in Vegas, not a conference. Another form of deceptive activity is saying, “I live in one place.” A relationship or a partner says, “You live there?” “Yeah, I do.” They come to find out that they don’t live there. They live somewhere else or they’re married or they have children and they are living with children. That’s deceptive activity. Surveillance also applies to hidden income. An example of hidden income would be spousal support or child support, where income is not disclosed correctly or accurately. Surveillance can locate that.

Also, surveillance can identify if someone is at risk. For example, children at risk, the elderly at risk and the impaired at risk. Let’s say someone has autism or Alzheimer’s or some cognitive issue or children, which are very vulnerable. Surveillance can verify or determine that this person is being treated safely and correctly and sometimes, unfortunately, inappropriately and there is misconduct. Finally, surveillance can help determine what someone’s dominant representation is. We want to get back into profiling, which a lot of investigators do. The dominant representation is the way that someone states it is, the way they say that it is. It doesn’t mean that’s a way it actually is but it’s the way it should be. I can give you an example of that where we had a woman who said, “I’m a dance teacher. I’m very active on the weekends. I’m out of town. I’m very happy. I’m very interactive. I’m very sociable. I’m a great person. I have lots of friends.” That’s the representation.

Is the fact that or not? The fact was no, she was reclusive. She would drink by herself in her place. She didn’t have friends. She didn’t go out dancing. She wasn’t that active. That was all a ploy. The representation we found to be untrue. What someone does with that, our client? We don’t know. Often, they just want to verify if the representation is true. Another example is the gentleman said he was an engineer. He was a graduate of all these technical schools. In fact, he was not an engineer. He was a maintenance worker. He did not have training. He did not have background and his representation was that he’s a smart guy and it was not true. He may have been smart, but it wasn’t in the engineering field.

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How Covert Information Can Be Used

Let’s define how covert information can be used. Obviously child support, alimony, visitation and dissolution of a marriage is the most common way that our firm has come across. We want to gather information for the court and to make fair and more correct decisions. Some people try to avoid paying alimony, spousal support and these orders for alimony and support are rare, but do occur. We can identify whether more money is due or not. Dissolution of marriage is a big one. So-and-so says, “My husband or my wife is cheating on me.” Our first question is, “Do you have an attorney and/or intending to dissolve your relationship?” If they say, “No, I don’t have an attorney and I’m not intending to dissolve the relationship.” Our next question is, “What’s the point?” “I just want to know. I’m curious.” At times, we may engage in that work but generally, we don’t because there’s no reason to satisfy someone’s curiosity that will not go anywhere. Our time is valuable. Our agents are very busy and we don’t like to waste time for someone’s curiosity only. If it might turn into or it’s a possibility they will turn into a dissolution action, then yes, we would take the case. If it never could, there’s no way and they’re not considering that, I hate to get involved with that.

Child custody is big because it involves the safety of the child. Perhaps who is in contact with the child? Are there gang members, drug addicts? Are known criminals visiting the location where the child is at? That could put the child in danger. Another example of conducting surveillance would be is a car seat being used? Is the driver driving safely? Are they intoxicated? Are they speeding? There are some things that involve the safety of the child while in a vehicle and that would be very big to know. Another way that surveillance can be used is for violation or considered to discuss the violation of a court order.

A court order would be the judge makes a rendering and says, visitation hours are from here to here. You cannot drive by or pass in front of the house, except during that time. I will have you send that to the person with the order who pertains a neutral third party to pick up the child. Are those court orders being followed or not? The stay away orders, protection orders, do not call orders and do not stalk orders. Stay away from the business, stay away from an employee, do not call and harass. We can covertly make recordings, film, have visual testimony and witnessing of events and all that is part of surveillance. Surveillance can be valuable. Sometimes the information that we gather is used for negotiation or renegotiation and for reassessment.

What that means is the judge could say, “Based on the evidence that the investigation firm provided, a better or fairer approach would be so-and-so.” The judge could make a reassessment or the attorneys involved can make a reassessment and say, “This is not working out. Let’s do something new.” What does the court need to see? The court for surveillance does not want to see some black and white video taken 300 miles away that no one can make out, that has no date timestamp, that has no point of reference. It has to be clear. It should be in color. It should be verifiable independently as to when it was taken, who took it, what we’re seeing and it should speak for itself. Believe it or not, we had a client. It’s a murder case where we were asked to analyze and review surveillance data of the murder itself. We saw it. It clearly was the person. It clearly fit the timeline in the police report. It clearly fit the coroner’s report and we actually saw the murder that was being filmed as it occurred.

Covert Surveillance: Surveillance is essentially some manner or method of reviewing and recording activities.

Believe it or not, the defendant in court said, “That looks like me but it’s not me.” We had to go through great trouble to prove that it was him. It looked like him. It acted like him. Everything indicated it was him. The expert witnesses had to determine that was him. That was independently verifiable by a third party. In that case of an expert witness sometimes and usually, the documentation, the video, the recording and the picture speaks for itself. The information has to be court admissible. That means that the way that the information was gathered meets criteria of public access or permissible access. You can’t have a ladder going up 40 feet filming a helicopter from above or a drone is not permissible and that it’s gathering information that’s not available to the public. It’s got to be something to the public.

A film or recording in a public place is admissible. A film or recording inside a house or private room is not admissible. It’s got to be admissible. There should be a conclusive pattern of activity. Let’s say a lady is meeting with a gentleman. She’s married and he’s married. They’re meeting at a hotel on Friday night and staying all night together, five Fridays in a row. We don’t know what’s happening inside the hotel room, but that pattern demonstrates some conclusive activity that indicates there’s misconduct. We’re not saying they’re sleeping together, but it’s not appropriate for a man and woman married to other people to spend the night together five weeks in a row. That’s what’s called a conclusive pattern of activity, an activity that demonstrates intent.

I can give you a case for us where there was a person who kept emailing and texting, “I want to see you. I want to talk to you. I want to settle this.” There was some financial dispute. Every time there was an appointment or a meeting time, the person didn’t show but would say, “I can’t make it this time, but next time. I’m so sorry. Something came up.” After 4, 5 or 6 times of this, the pattern of intent is, “I want you to go, but I’m not going to go. I’m going to disappoint you. I’m going to tempt you to do something that I know I have no interest in meeting my obligations or following up.”

That tells the court that there’s abuse going on. That’s abusive conduct. That pattern of intent of not showing up again and again demonstrates to the court that there is a pattern that is unclear and resolute. Finally, the court needs to know who is who. This is important. A lot of divorce cases are with two parties. One party is a little bit more submissive and fairer, more logical and more accommodating. The other party is very aggressive, hostile, makes allegations and is angry. The court doesn’t know based on demeanor who is who. The court should get evidence independent of what the party is saying that demonstrates who is abusive and who is not. As big with the court, they want to know who is who. They want to know through surveillance, whether it’s overt or covert which means who’s telling the truth and who is not. Who is aggressive and overly zealous and who is compliant and trying to cooperate is really big for the court.

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Why Is The Right Attorney Critical

Why is the right attorney critical? The right attorney can make all the difference in the world. The wrong attorney will not find the PI firm. He will not make suggestions as to what the PI firm can do. He will not have many facets of approaches to the case. We have one and if that line is blocked, they give up. The wrong attorney will not subpoena or issue a request for information or witnesses based on surveillance. The wrong attorney will not provide court admissible evidence. They will not act in plenty of time in advance. They’ll do things late. They’ll miss their deadlines and conferences. They will be disorganized, unfocused and unprofessional. They won’t use information that’s gathered legally that pertains to the case.

Why Is The Right P.I. Firm Critical

The right attorney who will do all those things that I mentioned correctly will change the case. Having the right attorney is huge. Having an attorney that takes money and doesn’t work is not helpful. Why is the right PI firm critical? Let’s be more positive then. They provide admissible information. They locate witnesses and take statements. They conduct surveillance under the law. It’s big. They conduct covert activities and they pose perhaps as a different party pretending to be someone at the bar who’s interested, pretending to be a solicitor for business, work or getting a contract. Pretending to be something that relates to the case. We can do that. The right PI firm can testify in court and is used to it and likes to. They can provide new data and does not previously know. That’s the right PI firm.

What does the court consider admissible? The court is going back to that. It wants it independently verifiable. It does not want hearsay. They want eye witnesses that are in fact, relating to what they saw and not what someone told them. They want video and photo evidence from a licensed firm and they also want facts and sometimes they may want an opinion. An opinion would be from, and the judges can ask, “I consider you an expert witness. What is your opinion? If someone is going there every Friday with another man’s wife or another wife’s husband and they’re spending the night five Fridays in a row from 8:00 at night to 8:00 in the morning. They come out wearing different clothing and they walk in with suitcases and they don’t come out, what is your opinion? Is something going on?”

We could say, it’s highly probable that there’s a relationship that’s outside the marriage. We can’t say if it is, but it’s highly probable. Admissibility is very important. What will the court ignore? They will ignore fragments of data or fragments of information. An example would be that we have a video of someone driving by at high speed that appears to be the make and model of a vehicle that’s a driver who’s not supposed to be there, but we don’t have a license plate. We can’t make out the driver. In fact, that’s a fragment. It does not tell us it was or it was not that person. Old surveillance, something from 3 or 4 months ago and older probably is not admissible. The court doesn’t want to know what happened last year, especially what happened 5 or 6 Christmases ago. They’re not going back that far. Usually, 1 or 2 months or something between hearings is appropriate.

Covert Surveillance: Court admissible information meets criteria of public or permissible access.

They do not want photos and videos from unlicensed persons. They don’t want private people, your friends, your family and your neighbors driving around following people. Not only is it not safe, but often what they say or what they record is not admissible. They don’t want incidental evidence. I have a great one from not that long ago. A lady found an airline request online that was never processed and that meant that so-and-so, her husband was going to go out of town. He never booked the flight. He was looking at flights and then for whatever reason didn’t go. That’s incidental. That doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t show intent.

Evidence from a person, not in court. The court hates to hear what somebody else might say that doesn’t show up. Both sides have a right to cross-examination and both sides have a right to ask questions from that person. Evidence presented by a person not in court has a hard time getting in. You want to try and make sure that your witnesses are cooperative and helpful. A good PI firm could convince people to go and often pick them up and take them there. Information not provided to the opposition in time. The court will throw out things because they’re late. You don’t send a witness list the day before the hearing. It’s 30 days, but typically it’s about ten. I’m not sure what the rules are state to state, but there should be a witness list provided to each party in advance.

What types of rulings are possible? The court might ignore surveillance completely. We’ve seen this where they’ve already decided what’s happened and they forget the evidence. In this case, a mistrial, new trial or an objection to the ruling is common and possible. Sanctions may be ordered to pay the extra costs of surveillance. It’s frequent for our firm to get paid by the client and then reimbursed by the other party or they reimburse the other party for the costs the way to go through. Maybe there’s a bill due and the other party, the one that we surveyed has to pay us the balance. That’s pretty common.

Sometimes they start the clock of rulings based on the date of the hearing or the surveillance. If a surveillance was conducted on Tuesday and we go to court two weeks later. The judge might say, “As of Tuesday when we received independent and verifiable surveillance, we believe this to be true.” That’s the type of ruling. Sometimes there are no sanctions, no arrearages, no interest and no orders to pay. We got that at times and the court’s view of the parties may change, which is very big. We want to make sure the court correctly identifies who is aggressive and who is not, who’s compliant and who is not.

Surveillance after the hearing, often we continue to do some surveillance. Maybe not enough information was gathered or maybe the ruling was not consistent with the facts. Sometimes we want to prove the rulings were ignored. Sometimes we want to keep the opposition compliant. Sometimes you want to gather new evidence and information. I hope that was helpful. I think pretty quickly so if you have more questions, you can go to our website, Remember, information is power and good decisions start with great information. You can call my office and me anytime. We’ll be glad to help you. We hope that this episode is one of many for you. We’re trying to give you as much advantage in your issues as possible. Thank you.

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Seven Ways A P.I. Firm Can Locate Hidden Assets And Income

It is unfortunately common that a parent will lie about employment, income, and bank accounts just to avoid paying child support, a garnishment, or other obligation. A private investigations firm has several great tools that are court-admissible that can help restore responsibility to those shirking their obligations and debts. Jonathan Kraut gives us the different ways a private investigation firm aid in persecuting people guilty of hiding their assets and income to bypass the system. He provides examples of cases he has worked on before that require them to investigate people’s records, background, and other information to prove the crime.

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Seven Ways A P.I. Firm Can Locate Hidden Assets And Income

Learn How A P.I. Firm Can Find Hidden Assets And Verify Employment

Our discussion is how to locate concealed income for your case. First, let’s define concealed income. I want to mention that this applies to a lot of people who have issues, especially with collections, child support, alimony, spousal support, business garnishments and so forth. Concealed income is defined as a family member, a partner, like a business partner or a romantic partner or associate parent, spouse, a nonprofit volunteer who is either underreporting, embezzling or lying about the income that they are making. The income could be passed through a company. It could be passed through another person. It could be cash. It could be other kinds of earnings. It could be through a business or a personal activity.

It’s basically income that is concealed or not represented accurately. Criminal conduct often does apply to conceal income. The purpose for someone concealing income could be as varied as there are people, but generally, it’s for avoiding child support, alimony or spousal support, tax evasion which is essentially tax-free money, maintaining benefits through the government. For example, if someone makes too much, they will lose some benefits. They’re underreporting their benefit, maybe for government subsistence, for some kinds of funding. When someone is seeking outside support because of underreporting, for example, they want medical care, some government subsidies and they may be lying, it could be for revenge, spite or control to state that they are not making as much money or earning as much income.

Finally, and possibly in many cases, the purpose of concealing income could be for greed to bring in money to themselves. If it’s through a position of trust, it would be called embezzlement which is a crime of felony. In addition to grand theft, there are a lot of crimes associated with taking money or concealing money that is not theirs or should not be concealed.

Seven Ways To Locate Hidden Assets

What does the court need to see? The court does not just say, “You told us they’re concealing money. We’ll assume that what you’re saying is true.” That doesn’t happen. The court will want to see recent or current pay stubs, but with the person who’s earning income, the court could ask for pay stubs or an attorney could subpoena them. The court will get them.

Why is that important? If somebody was working a year ago and they say, “I’m no longer working there. I left the job. I’m unemployed,” a recent bank statement or a recent pay stub that would contradict that, for example, “Two weeks ago, and for every two weeks, for last year, here are your pay stubs. You’ve been paid.” “I forgot about that. I forgot that I was working. I didn’t know.” I’ve heard them. Some of the people in court say, “I forgot I was working. I didn’t know they still pay me.” Bank accounts, bank deposits are great evidence, also current and recent business interaction. For example, one time we had a gentleman who said he was unemployed. His wife was seeking child support for their son and he said, “I’m not working at all. I have no income. I’m destitute and therefore I can’t pay any child support.”

Locating Hidden Assets: Concealed income is defined as a family member or a partner who is either under-reporting or embezzling or lying about the income that they are making.

In fact, we found his business online. We asked him to come to a location to do an estimate on an account. He showed up wearing his logo for the company he supposedly does not work with, driving a car with the logos on the car for the company he no longer works with, offering us a contract with a company he no longer is working with. They gave me three references for recent jobs that he just completed business at which I called, and we subpoenaed them in court. Those individuals showed up and said, “Here’s my contract with him. He’s working on my project right now.” That was fantastic. That’s a recent and current business activity.

Recent usually is within a month or two. Some courts say, “That’s three months ago. Anything could have happened since then.” You want to have it very recent. Recent clients, partners, employees who will state, “Yes, he’s my boss. He just paid me. Here’s a copy of my check.” That would be great. Any recent and personal expenditures related to business or activity, for example, paying a commission or fee or subcontractor are all evidence the work was being done and photo evidence. Another gentleman said, “I’m not working anymore. I’m an inspector and I can’t do the work. I can’t walk and so forth. I can’t pay my fair share.” In fact, we saw him on a construction site with a hard hat and a vest with a hammer belt walking around, checking on other people and we filmed it.

He didn’t know that we were there. When he said, “I don’t work. I swear to that. I say under oath I’m not working.” We showed a video to the judge three days prior that he was on the job inspecting and working. The job that he got, he didn’t report. The judge got pissed. Everything was fair and came outright. The guy was caught and he was very good after that. Sometimes it takes getting caught for someone to be held responsible. Why the attorney is critical is because the right attorney can make or break your case. The wrong attorney can definitely break your case. The attorney that you hire or if you have one should approve what kind of investigation is performed and what the investigation firms should do.

For example, if we were told by an attorney to go and follow this guy and see where he works, film that, that may be one kind of criteria. Let’s say it’s a woman working in an office setting and all we need to do is call her up on the phone, call the business office, film our calling of her that she answers the phone. We can’t record what she says on the other side, but we can film what we say to her and verify that phone number and verify, “Are you so-and-so? I want to send you an email. What’s your email?” We repeat it back to her. “What’s your position?” We repeat it back to her. The filming is of us talking to her. That is admissible in court, but the attorneys would direct us as to how to be effective and what is in their strategy.

Why is the right attorney very important also? They do create a multifaceted strategy. They often don’t say, “Get this one thing,” and that’s it. We want to approach it from several angles so that there’s no way for the other side to squeak around it and to creep past it and pretend that they didn’t know. We want to trap them in every possible way. A good attorney will issue subpoenas. A PI firm like ours cannot issue a subpoena. It has to come from an attorney. That document, that subpoena or witness goes before the court and the court will decide if it’s admissible or not. The court will read the documents that are subpoenaed like bank statements or employment records or pay stubs. The court will also review or interview the veracity, which means the probability that that witness is of value and necessary for the hearing.

The right attorney will provide court-admissible evidence, will prepare for us a list of things to look for and should act with plenty of time in advance. One thing that we hate as a PI firm is to be called at 4:00 and say, “We’ve got three subpoenas. We’ve got an hour to serve them because the hearing is tomorrow.” Attorneys should know a couple of weeks in advance. I’d say 2 to 3 weeks is the right window. Anything under five days is getting tight. Good attorneys are thinking with time on their side to their advantage and they’re not in a hurry. Everything is done methodically. What if that person is not there? What if they moved? We have to have time for those contingencies.

Good attorneys also act with focus. They’re professional. They’re organized. They know what motions to file. They’re not caught by surprise. There should be nothing in court that’s a surprise to a good attorney. They should be ready for pretty much anything. If they’re not ready, it is our job as a PI firm to help them get ready. They also use the information gathered. One horrible story we have is we did catch a woman cheating on her husband with several men. We’ve got a great film. We’ve got testimony. We’ve got hotel bills. We’ve got them making out at the bar. We’ve got all this stuff. The attorney decided he’d rather settle to make some agreement and the client never had their rights represented fully because the attorney who wanted to get out of it was willing to cut a deal. Unfortunately, that happened and we’re very disappointed. We love to gather the information that’s valuable and especially that’s used.

Sometimes, it takes getting caught for someone to be held responsible. Click To Tweet

Any good PI firm will want to have their information used in court. That’s why we’re there. Why is the right PI firm critical? We know why the attorney is critical. They’re the ones in court talking. Basically, the person or agency that executes the documents and subpoenas is a PI firm. Law firms can mail things out and sometimes that subpoena is not admissible. Usually, it must be served in person to somebody, usually to the individual named in the subpoena or to a bank or an employer for records or documents. Mailing it in does not always work and sometimes can be challenged. PI firms will issue the subpoena to a person to execute a real service.

PI firms locate and find witnesses. A lot of times the address is wrong. People are hiding. They won’t answer the door. The Sheriff’s Office knocks on the door and nobody answers. We’ll go above and beyond that and wait for them. We’ll do things to get them to come out. We always know what it would be but I don’t want to say. We also can take statements. We help issue affidavits for the person. Let’s say an individual is a witness in a case about money that’s stolen or business dealings that were concealed. We’ll get an affidavit from a person who will help write it up, give it to the law firm or the attorney to dress it up a little bit and go back and have the person sign it. That may prevent them from having to testify in court, yet the concealed income or money in question has been identified by a third party.

We may run databases looking for DBAs, which is Doing Business As, businesses under other names or other entities, nomenclatures that are somehow missing from a person’s report to the court as to where their income is coming from. We have the ability to run FICA or a broker search for bank accounts under certain circumstances. We can conduct court searches. Let’s say someone is concealing their income by having a business that they didn’t disclose. There are ways for us to find out in any state through the secretary of state and other means that they are in business and we can get certified documents from the secretary of state that is them, they’re in business, and this is the name that they’re going after.

We can get the attorney to issue a subpoena which we’ll serve. The whole thing is wide open and the truth comes out. We can also conduct covert activities, meaning they may not see us filming. They may not know that we’re gathering records and information. They may not know that we’re serving subpoenas until it’s already served. We can also pose as another person. This is exciting. The example that I gave about how I was pretending to be someone in need of services, calling someone to come out and give us an estimate or bid. We didn’t need the services, but we’re pretending that we are in need. That is a perfect example of how the right PI firm can help out.

Admissible Versus Inadmissable Evidence

What does the court consider admissible? Independently verifiable evidence gathered in public view or through proper means is admissible. What do we mean by independently verifiable? It’s a picture that does not rely on our testimony, video or recording. It’s something that the electronic device has captured in addition to us saying that it is true. That’s a good example. A subpoenaed document, for example, pay stubs or it could be their employment file. That’s not based on what we say that’s independently verifiable, that information came from either the bank, the company, brokerage firm or something like that.

Eyewitness testimony, as investigators, we can testify as to what we saw, what we heard, where we were, what time of day was it, where we parked or sitting or standing. That is not hearsay. We were present. We saw it and that is admissible. Witnesses that are eyewitnesses, they are admissible. Video and photographic evidence that I mentioned. A lot of times, a private person, friend or neighbor will go and follow or film. Sometimes that is not admissible. It should be by a licensed agency whose job is to gather information. Private data gathered in an illegal manner, for example, a bank account search or brokerage firm search gathered in a certain way is admissible. We can’t hack into their databases and pull it that way. Once we broke the law to get information, it’s not admissible and subpoenaed records. Those are things that are admissible in court.

Locating Hidden Assets: It’s important when talking about money and concealed income to make sure that all your information evidence is admissible.

The court will often ignore the following: fragments or old data, pieces of information that are incomplete, old records, which could be several months, maybe 3 or 4, photos and videos prepared by non-licensed persons, which could be tainted and maybe it was gathered illegally. Incidental evidence, for example, somebody booked an airline ticket, they printed it out, they left it out. It seems to be for a business deal but we don’t know. We can’t prove that that person flew there. We don’t know why they’re going there. We don’t know if it’s for business or for whatever reason. That’s incidental. We have to tie it all in together to make it something the court will take seriously. Affidavits from persons not in court, a lot of times a person must appear and verify that is their affidavit.

Cross-Examination And Sanctions

Sometimes the court will allow it to go through. Sometimes the other side, by law, should have an opportunity to have that person cross-examined by both parties. Information not provided in time, there are a few cases where information was acquired and was not submitted in the time required through a witness list and so many days where both sides have to name and the witness will appear. That time period was missed and those people can’t show up. It’s important, especially when you’re talking about money and concealed income to make sure that all your information evidence is admissible. What types of rulings might be possible? There could be arrearages with interest.

For example, someone has a child support hearing. It is found the other party has been concealing income for two years. It’s determined what that income is. It’s determined what the proper child support should have been paid. The judge could order that amount plus interest in arrears, meaning going backward, be paid from the time where it was determined that they were concealing income. There’s something called sanctions, which I love. Sanctions are ordered by the court for the other side, the losing party, essentially who concealed to pay penalties, maybe pay legal fees, maybe pay and often the investigation fees. If we were hired, for example, our bill is $2,000 to do what we have to do. If it’s found that the other person, through our work, was concealing, it’s very likely that the party hiring us will get reimbursed by the other party for the work that we had to do to prove that they lied. That’s pretty common.

The court could have penalties. Some penalties could be a multiplier, like 3, 5 or 7 times. I’ve even had ten where the court ordered it. Let’s say our fee was $2,000, the court ordered the other party to pay ten times that amount, $20,000 to the other party for causing them to hire us and pay us to prove that the other party was lying or was concealing income. Sometimes the judge will order or an agreement will be made that the clock starts at the time of the hearing. They don’t go back in time. They just started today. That’s not fair. Let’s say we proved that someone concealed their income for a year, but sometimes the judge says, “It just started from today.” That’s very unfair, but we’ve had that as a common ruling.

The judges don’t often like to go back in time. They just say, “From now on, this is what you have to do.” Sometimes even though we’ve proven our case, there are no sanctions, no arrearages and no interest. Sometimes the judge says, “The tax return is what I use. Even though you’ve proven this person has falsified their tax form, I’m going to go with their tax form.” We’ve had that on several occasions. What we do then is ask the other party to file the complaint with the IRS. The IRS does an audit. The tax forms are amended. The amended forms are given to the judge, and the judge has to go back and make it fair and have the person pay arrearages with interest.

Good attorneys have time on their side, do things methodically, act with focus, and are not caught by surprise. Click To Tweet

Providing Additional Information After The Hearing Process

Our situation with locating concealed income doesn’t end with the hearing process. There are some investigations that work extremely valuable, very helpful after the hearing, and I’ll list them for you. Let’s say not enough evidence was provided in the hearing. We don’t just go home and stop. We want to keep going. We want to provide additional information to move the court towards what is a fair and proper ruling. Let’s say that the ruling was not consistent with the facts. We’ve had that on occasion where for whatever reason, the ruling did not equal the facts that we’re aware of. We have to go back, get more and maybe prepare it in a different way so the attorney can say, “There’s new information, new evidence. Look at it this way.” A lot of times, that gives the judge an out perhaps for forgetting or missing something, which is not common.

If it does happen, you want to let the judge come to realize that on his or her own without being embarrassed. We want to prove that rulings were ignored. A lot of times, there are rulings that are issued and the party ordered to perform or do certain things does not do it, we will prove that they did not do it. For example, they’re ordered to make payments and they don’t pay. They’re ordered to pay us and reimburse us for the cost of our work and reimburse us. They’re ordered to reveal more information about their accounts and they don’t do it. We’ll help with that. We also want to keep the opposition compliant. They know we’re watching. They know we’re checking that has a miracle all over it. A lot of times they suddenly get compliant, get better and the opposition does what they’re supposed to do. We want to keep them honest and keep it fair, but we want them to do what the court orders them to do.

We want to gather new information that may not have been previously known. More information may come out later and we want to stay on top of it. Generally, a PI firm will support a client all the way through the case, through the hearing and usually for another year or two, we’re on-call or available to help continue the process, especially regarding what I mentioned. I hope this was informative and helpful. If you have any questions at all, my firm and my staff are available as am I. Our website is where there’s more information. You can also give us a call. Remember that having the right attorney and the right PI firm can make a big difference in your case. Sometimes it’s not how much they charge, it’s how hardworking and how diligent they are. I want you all to remember that information is power. Good decisions start with great information and our firm and other PI firms like us are available to help at any time. Thank you so much.

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Possible Domestic Abuse Remedies

Not every relationship with domestic abuse has to end in tragedy or divorce or continue for years of torment. Understanding how to get yourself out of it the right way with the proper support may help lead to a better outcome. Host, Jonathan Kraut, helps with that by sharing the remedies to possible domestic abuse. He breaks down the seven different ways a private investigation firm could aid or support in handling or preventing domestic abuse situations. Find out more about possible ways to help resolve unwanted interpersonal conduct in this episode.

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Possible Domestic Abuse Remedies

Discover Several Possible Remedies That Can Help Resolve Unwanted Interpersonal Conduct

In this show, we’ll be discussing seven ways a PI firm supports domestic abuse victims. This is put on by myself, Jonathan Kraut and Net Check Investigations. Our California PI license number is 21529. First, let’s define domestic abuse. We use the term abuse, not violence because abuse can be manipulation, emotional control, removal of assets and property, keeping someone from contacting their friends and neighbors. There’s a lot more than just violence, which implies physical contact. Domestic abuse is defined as a family member, partner or potential partner who has negative or destructive or even immature conduct relating to their partner or family member. Both parties can be abusers and victims. In other words, we’re not assigning one person as a permanent role. Either party can fill those positions or sometimes the individuals do alternate or swap roles.

In many cases, this conduct or behavior would be constituting a criminal act or crime. It is ongoing, typically not once in twenty years, but something that happens over time again and again and intensifying with time. We also want to review that domestic abuse is generally learned behavior. Most of the behavior picked up is as a child or as being socialized or viewed by a person when they’re growing up. It can also be passed down from person to person like a disease. Some countries, for example, Japan has almost no abusive acts of rape, whereas countries like Brazil, rape of a woman to become her boyfriend or her husband are common. In Japan, it almost never exists. We know that behavior is learned and passed on from person to person. Otherwise, abusive conduct would be the same in every country, in every population.

Imprinting and showing conduct to another person is transferred that way is also common. Trauma or traumatic events can cause this imprinting and eventually post-traumatic stress at any age. It doesn’t have only to be a young person. I want to state that domestic violence is a narrow term. It should be called domestic abuse, which includes emotional control or emotional issues that are transferred from person to person. A typical abuser characteristic is generally the abusers blame the victim for everything. “It’s your fault. You made me do it. I had no choice. You didn’t clean the house well. If you’d only earn more money,” and so on. Abusers generally make judgments and set the rules.

For example, an abuser may say, “I told you what to do. You didn’t listen to me. This is when you can go out. This is who you call.” Those are typical abuser comments. Abusers tend to ignore the needs of others. They put their focus on their needs and their feelings. Abusers could often be described as being immature and their conduct may be childlike. Typical victim characteristics, victims often take the blame and responsibility for what the abuser does. One common comment is, “I try to make him or her better. I did my best.” Those are signs of someone accommodating or trying to take the blame for what the abuser does.

Many victims have tremendous noble characteristics, a lot of patience and willingness to help. In fact, these noble characteristics often lead towards being victimized. Victim traits are common among health care professionals, teachers, nurturers and those with a big heart. Unfortunately, those were the greatest traits of all. I’m often our victim of abuse because they’re trying to accommodate and make better the misconduct of another person. We want to get into some new stuff, things that we haven’t talked about before.

A typical abuser characteristic is victim blaming. Click To Tweet

A refresher is there are five abuser traits or general characteristics, the cycle of violence type. If you haven’t heard that, these are common interactions that are negative over time. Typically, there’s some discomfort or some tension which erupts at some point in violence and then the abuser asks for forgiveness, “I’ll never do it again. I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened to me.” Not only does it happen again, but each time it tends to get more and more intense. There is the sadistic type, which tortures, maims, cuts, hurts, burns not only children and pets which are innocent, but also bystanders, neighbors. The purpose is to put the victim in fear. The controlling type who wants to control every aspect of contact and interaction of the victim include kidnapping, holding hostage and so forth.

The stalking type, which wants to take revenge. The co-dependent type, which can be split down two sides. One is emotional co-dependency, meaning a constant need for interaction and emotional contact and a chemical co-dependent, which may use drugs or alcohol as a reason or excuse to abuse. How will a PI firm react to this? First, a PI firm should identify what abuser traits are present. You can’t throw a blanket on every abuser and say they’re all the same. Some abusers are highly intelligent. They may be narcissistic, sociopathic or typical in every way other than their conduct towards their partner. They may be sweet, wonderful, caring and kind except in private. Going back to the previous five traits, a PI firm first has to identify which traits are appropriate and that would help determine a strategy.

In other words, you would not handle a sadistic type the same as a cycle of violence type. This is to reduce risk as well. Everyone in contact with an abuser at some point can be at risk. You’ve got to know what you’re dealing with first. You don’t walk into a fire without the right equipment and the right understanding of what’s going on. In the same way, a PI wants to walk into this situation to help resolve it and lower risk, not increase it. The types of evidence also will be different. A PI firm will not be looking for some evidence with one abuser type as with another. Also, the victims have to be willing to go forward. I’ve worked on dozens of cases where we’ve got great evidence.

The victim says, “Yes, I want to prosecute. I’m tired of this. I can’t handle it anymore. My children are suffering. My family is suffering. My job is suffering. My health is suffering.” They want to go back and say, “I’ll work with him or her one more time, maybe this time.” That is a waste. We know that once it gets to the point where a PI firm has to get involved, not only is it serious but it could be deadly. My recommendation is that victims have to be willing to go forward and have to stick with it. If you are a victim, don’t blame yourself for what happened. Please get some help and let us help you. Finally, you have to have a PI firm that understands the difference.

Help Clarify The Situation

Let’s talk about support number one, how a PI firm can support a domestic violence situation. The first is to help clarify the situation. Provide independent evaluation to the client as to what’s going on. Explain the risks and a safer process that can be followed. Get a commitment from the victim. Get support for the victim, from coworkers, family and friends. In some cases, getting that support, that level of safety around the victim is crucial because the victim is unwilling to go forward without support. We’ve seen that many times.

The PI firm also is a big pillar of support for victims, so clarify the situation. Also, get the dynamics of the case and validation from other agencies. Let’s say that we believe a victim is being haunted or tortured or abused by a co-dependent type, an emotional co-dependent. Maybe the PI firm and their staff are not quite trained to identify that. It would be good to share that information with the local domestic violence center to get their feedback or take on it. Is this what we think it is? We want to validate independently outside the agency what we think is going on.

Creating An Effective Plan

PI support number two, create an effective plan. As in number one, we want to clarify the situation. Once it is clarified, there must be a plan devised based on the objectives. Objectives can change person to person. One objective is, “I want custody of my children.” Another objective is, “I want a restraining order, a protective order. I don’t want to see him or her forever.” Another objective could be, “I want to divorce.” Another objective could be, “I want counseling and treatment for both of us because this could be salvaged.” We have seen some cases where the relationship can be salvaged.

The objectives set the plan. We also want a budget. One thing that I have to say is that sometimes it takes money to do a good job. Now domestic violence centers, as in our case, can hire us and there will be no charges to the victim. That isn’t common but can happen. There are budgetary amounts from different state and county agencies to help support the victim, but you want to provide a budget. If a person has means and they have money, sometimes you get what you pay for. You want a good job and it can be quickly done. Sometimes the paperwork from the county or state may take weeks, if not months. It’s not worth it. Someone could be dead in weeks or months. If you have the money, my best advice is to go forward right away and not apply for grants or for other support.

Domestic Abuse Support: Domestic abuse is defined as a family member, partner or potential partner, who has negative or destructive or even immature conduct relating to their partner or family member.

We also want a plan to coordinate with attorneys and domestic violence agencies. Attorneys are crucial because a lot of times they will tell us what they need as evidence according to what the objective is. If it’s going to be divorce or child custody or child support or a restraining order and there’s an attorney involved, the PI firm is providing information for the attorney at the attorney’s wishes. We can argue in private about what we should do and not do. In court, we all have to be unified as to what we’re trying to accomplish. Possibly to get a plan, we need the cooperation of coworkers, family members and friends. For example, let’s say we have a stalking type.

The stalking type drives by, honks the horn, sometimes yells obscenities, and sometimes make phone calls or text messages from burner phones that can’t be traced. It’s sometimes good to get your neighbors to allow us to put cameras in their windows so that the perpetrator or the abuser can be filmed and identified. It changes everything, a different view to get their license plate, to see them from the side. Sometimes they yell and scream where they’re out of sight or honking or driving by or knocking on the door. Their staging area is next door or across the street so having a camera over there would be great.

Sometimes they’re texting or phone call a neighbor or a family member, getting their cooperation and documenting those calls and texts would be great. Coworkers also can help a lot to verify. Let’s say that a violent person is approaching. You want to get security right away. Call 911 right away before that person gets inside. We may want to coordinate with law enforcement. A lot of agencies are very helpful and cooperative. All you’ve got to do is ask and say, “This person has vandalized my car a couple of times I believe. I don’t have it on film, but now I can put a camera. If I do get a camera, what is it that you need me to do to prosecute criminally?” Law enforcement will tell you, “This is what you need to do.”

Locating And Serving The Abuser

PI support number three, locate and serve the abuser. As a PI firm, we love to skip trace, evaluate the habits and investigate someone’s conduct so that we can serve them. We have to serve in order in person. Rarely can it be mailed or handed to a third party. We’ll try to locate their residence, their work activity, their hobbies, where might they go on Sunday afternoon and in a friendly and innocuous way say, “There’s a hearing coming up. These are papers to go. You don’t have to go, but if you want your viewpoint and your opinion heard, you should go.” Typically, they thank us. It doesn’t have to be a negative and difficult interaction. It can be friendly, safe and supportive.

Abusers have a right to be heard. A lot of times, there’s information they provide that helps for fairness to come out. We want to meet the need for fairness for everybody. Sometimes we’ll identify someone’s habits or location through social media and postings, “I’m going to be at this nightclub. I’m going to this restaurant. I’m coming back from a trip,” and that will alert us as to where to go, what to do and how to approach that person at that time. We can also attempt to serve and locate family members, witnesses, coworkers, and other people that are related to the case that can provide information to the court. Serving a subpoena in court does not mean that the person will show up, but with a proof of service affidavit, we can tell the court that we did make contact. We did serve them. At least the person’s rights have been preserved or whether they choose to appear or not is up to them.

Coordinating With The Attorneys

Number four, coordinate with the attorneys. The attorneys are telling us what they need to prevail in court. We want to talk about what evidence we have with the attorney of record if there is one. Since we can’t give legal advice, we can suggest what we think might happen. Believe it or not, 1,000 cases I’ve been part of and I would never represent myself in court. There are a whole lot of things that I don’t know, their motions, objections and procedures that I don’t understand. Even having heard some of them hundreds of times, I’m not legally trained and I would not know what to do. A layperson who believes that they can without being in court very often or at all navigates the legal system is probably not a good approach.

We tell people you need an attorney. We can provide confidential information that is not allowed to the clients, to the attorney. For example, let’s say a person says, “I want this person served.” It’s a part of a domestic violence case. We find that person. We serve that person. Sometimes we don’t tell our clients exactly what they were doing or where they live for everybody’s safety. Now the attorneys can know and sometimes the attorneys will bring it up in court or the address is made public. We let the attorneys decide that. We don’t try to breach confidentiality. Just because someone’s an abuser doesn’t mean their rights to privacy are waived.

Domestic abuse is generally learned behavior picked up from childhood growing up. Click To Tweet

We gather evidence that’s admissible in court. A lot of information that we gather through private means is admissible but is not admissible through another person conducting themselves as a PI would. We often also review the cases and give ideas. Having been in contact with over 1,000 victims and abusers and involved in hundreds, if not thousands of cases, I would say we have some idea as to what to do in court on. Also, we know a lot of judges. We’ve been in court a lot, so we know them, they know us and we can suggest to the attorney what the judge would accept and what the judge would if they don’t know, which often they do know too.

Gathering Evidence

Number five, how a PI can support a domestic abuse case? We gather admissible evidence and it’s got to be in a certain way. We can’t set up a ladder and film at an angle through a window into a house. Evidence must be visible and perceived to be public from the street. We can’t go through any extraordinary means. We cannot tap phones. We cannot put recording devices in someone’s house or place of business. We’ve got to protect a person’s right to privacy, whether they’re accused of being an abuser or not. Many times, our video recordings, pictures and sound recordings have to follow certain criteria. For example, let’s say that a person is in a restaurant, in a public area where there are lots of tables and can be overheard by any table or by any server that we can record.

We can either make a video recording. We can take pictures or sound recording. Let’s say a person goes into the back room with the door partially open where there’s only one table in that room. We cannot record or film or video what’s going on into a space that’s perceived as private. Another example is one lady who thought her husband was cheating and he picked up some woman at a place that we can’t say where and took her to a hotel. They went inside the hotel room. We cannot go inside the hotel room to determine what occurred. All we can say is that this person picked up a lady at this time in place. We have a picture of her, which we probably won’t share with the victim in case there’s retribution, and went into this hotel, were in this hotel for hours and left. That’s what we can state as true.

We can’t invite privacy breaches in our work. That’s not admissible. Whatever went inside that private room, we can’t say and we don’t know. We can conduct surveillance. We can review the documents. We can retrieve documents. We can gather case information on other similar cases that might pertain. We interview witnesses. We can prepare investigators and agent notes. Sometimes we can help serve an affidavit to be signed by the witness so that they don’t have to appear in court. Sometimes we serve them with a subpoena and we help them get to court. Even if we have to pick them up and drive them, we’ll do that.

We’ll research and obtain records from any appropriate county in any state. Our network allows us to do that without much difficulty. That does help in court. We can serve, analyze and review financial records, financial statements. On my staff, we have a certified fraud examiner who has permission and the credentials to review confidential financial information, who’s paying so-and-so, what’s being spent on what. If we get a subpoena of bank statements or records, our Certified Fraud Examiner, known as a CFE, can do a great job on that. Finally, we can locate and prove employment and income. Sometimes it’s a little difficult if you’re self-employed, but sometimes we pose as a buyer or vendor or future client and we’ll get everything.

Testifying In Court

The final and last part of this is court testimony. Item number six is testifying in court. A PI could testify as an expert witness, a material witness or an eyewitness. An expert witness is the opinion of the person in court as to what they believe is true and why. Based on experience, the court has to admit that a person is an expert. A material witness is someone who provides film, video, camera, documentation and statements but does not testify other than, “Yes, I took pictures. Yes, I took video.” An eyewitness is someone that observed an interaction between other people, typically perhaps a violent exchange itself.

Ending The Abuse

IIP 13 | Domestic Abuse Support

We also allow evidence to be introduced by attorneys. One thing that’s funny is the attorney can’t say, “Here are pictures,” and slam them down. The courts say, “Great.” There needs to be what’s called a foundation. That is where a person who took the pictures is first asked to explain how these pictures were taken, when and where, with what device and whether the documents, the pictures, the recording, the video would be entered into evidence. The judge will enter it into evidence. That’s called creating a foundation. That’s what attorneys need to do. They don’t send pictures or videos to the court and that’s it. It’s got to be introduced in a certain way.

Also, the person providing the evidence in this foundationary process can be challenged and can be examined by both sides. One example is, “Where were you? What time was it? How far was it? What camera did you use? What was the lighting?” to help paint a picture as to whether this evidence could be used in court or could provide information of value. We also provide measurements, analysis and metrics. For example, someone says, “I heard them fighting and screaming through the window at night.” We ask, “Where were you?” “I was on the road.” We can say, “Were you standing here?” “Yes, I was.” We can say, “That’s 120 feet.” We would go out and test that if someone could hear a conversation in a closed house with the windows closed at 120 feet away as to whether that’s a reasonable declaration by the witness or not.

Sometimes you can’t hear anything at 120 feet with the window closed. We’ll do things like that. We can also offer evidence of concealed income or concealed employment, business cards, bids for work. Someone may come out and give you an estimate representing that they’re with a company. We love to do that. We can offer evidence of misconduct, abuse and bad character that may go above and beyond that one incident or one case that we’re working on. We can find witnesses that have similar stories and similar experiences with the abuser.

Support In Case Follow-Up

Number seven, follow- up. A PI can support you with case follow-up. This is after the ruling is made. We can maintain documents and evidence for future use. Typically, we keep documents for about ten years. We can conduct surveillance to determine if the abuser is violating or is following a court order. We can testify regarding those violations in court. “Yes, we saw he or she do this. Yes, we did record it. Yes, we did hear it.” We’re making coordination with the attorneys even after the case, just in case they need us for something. We can support client treatment and morale. A lot of times, we’ll refer our clients after our work is done to the right agencies for support and even to their friends or coworkers or talk to them on their behalf to help them out.

If you have any questions or you want to seek a better understanding, I did write a book called Ending The Abuse. You can find this online at Amazon and other providers. Also, we have a website called, where there’s domestic violence or domestic abuse survey, traits of an abuser, traits of a victim. The book talks about in more detail these abuser traits, these five types. It talks about how to disconnect from these individuals, different approaches and different resources that you might have. You can go online and buy it or call my office. A lot of counseling and social service agencies use this book as a guideline for working with the victims and abusers.

Many victims have tremendous noble characteristics but unfortunately, these characteristics often lend towards being victimized. Click To Tweet

We consider that a good resource. I also suggest, if you’re curious, maybe to find other books on the topic. There are a lot of great books out there. I invite you to check out our other shows and go to for a directory of blogs, shows and other resources. Please contact my office or me if you have any questions. Although we operate in California, we have a lot of connections and referrals in other states that are very competent and very capable. If you need an attorney, locally, we work with some, depending on what you may need, and sometimes they’re perfect and sometimes will not have a recommendation, but we try to help out. Remember, information is power and good decisions start with great information. Thank you for reading. We’re hoping that whatever issue you have to resolve is processed quickly, safely and effectively. Thank you so much.

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How To Identify The Five Forms Of Domestic Abuse

Are you a domestic abuse victim or an abuser? In this episode, Jonathan Kraut and Bill Stierle take us to a deeper understanding of domestic abuse as they discuss the five distinctive abuser traits. They discuss the kind of mentality abusers have and what they do to project that to their victims. On the other hand, Jonathan and Bill also give light to the different typical victim categories and how they behave in an abusive relationship. Learn more about domestic abuse and gain clarity about how to report these situations and help someone out from this cycle of mental, emotional, and physical violence.

Listen to the podcast here:

How To Identify The Five Forms Of Domestic Abuse

Better Understanding Of Domestic Violence And Abuse And The Five Typical Types Of Abuser Conduct

The thing I like about this title is, Jonathan, you know a lot about this. A big part of understanding and identifying domestic abuse is a big part of your history. Tell us a little bit about your history and your experiences in dealing with domestic abuse.

For a period, I was a dean of a college department at a degree-granting institution and became the counselor for the student body. We may have only had 500 or 600 in our student population. I had office hours at a certain time and anyone with an issue could come to see me. Usually Friday between noon and 3:00, I’d have 30-minute appointments and it’s mostly women. Most of the women had the same story. “The guy is trying to control me. He started so nice. He was wonderful. I couldn’t believe what a great guy he was. He began treating me poorly. He began abusing me and hurting me and taking away my phone, not letting me call my parents, telling me what I can do and can’t do. I’m trying so hard to make him happy. What can I do?”

I had so many of these similar stories that I decided to ask the college for support in running some studies. What we found out was after interviewing maybe 500 or 1,000 people that there were five distinctive abuser traits. That’s what we’re going to discuss. We focus on the different characteristics of an abuser. I’ve written books on it and our friends are invited to get a copy. There is a free survey on our website. Are you a victim or you may be an abuser? We then could fill out on behalf of another. It’s anonymous and instant, meaning they answer the questions. They click and they get the answer within ten seconds. This is significant. I think people should pay attention to it.

That’s a great resource that people can have access to. Even counselors could use those and others can use it to assess this because you’ve done some research and you’ve provided some validation from it. You wrote a book about it. This is a big piece. Let’s walk through this a little bit. As a California private investigation person, you are focused in on this to provide people protection and support or maybe even resources to how people go to court over this stuff.

Given that I have a lot of experience, as does my staff, we specialize in not only background checks and supporting criminal and family law work, but we do a lot of domestic abuse work as well.

Defining domestic abuse is important and one of the elements is a family member, partner, and a potential partner. Here are some of these different elements. Jonathan, if you’d be willing to talk about these different values or attributes that would fall in the category of abuse, that might help us.

One thing that we want to point out is that domestic violence is outdated terminology. It’s no longer used when we define this conduct. The conduct is between people that know each other well, like a family member, a partner or a potential partner. Those are called domestic relationships. It does not apply to a neighbor down the street or your best friend. It’s someone that there is an inferred relationship, either family or some other intimate relationship. We call it domestic abuse and rightfully so. The courts have understood and in our societies now understanding that abuse can also be emotional and controlling and other kinds of behavior that don’t necessarily require violence. It’s an expanded understanding of the dynamics between those individuals.

They’ve got to have a relationship that’s in place. One of your bullets says it may constitute criminal conduct.

Abuse can be anything that’s negative, destructive or immature where the abuser’s view or perspective is more important and may suffocate or may strangle the victim’s view or their needs. What’s also funny is that the definition does not define you. She was abusive and prompted her partner to abuse her. She wanted to be harmed and mistreated.

Forms Of Domestic Abuse: Abuse can be anything that’s negative or destructive or immature, where the abuser’s view or perspective is more important and may suffocate the victim’s view or their needs.

There’s a relationship between those two things. I know why, but that’s a whole other story that you and I are going to get into as a part of the interchange between the abuser and the victim and the exchange of how those two people play two different roles as my contribution to this. Your research around this is outstanding. It also covers how one person that wants to validate that their self-worth is low. There’s nothing better than getting somebody to abuse them to feel like this fits my image. My self-worth is low. This is something my dad or my mom used to do it to me. I feel crappy and I might as well be in a relationship that reminds me of being in this crappy relationship.

That’s the only thing that I’m familiar with. I’ve had a client say, “I realized my girlfriend was like my mom and she was as abusive as my mom was.” I was like, “How did you like that?” He goes, “I didn’t like that.” I go, “Was it the familiarity, though?” He said, “Yes.” “Could it be you’re going for familiarity?” “I want to be with a kind person.” I go, “Part of you doesn’t, but part of you doesn’t know how to be with a kind person, doesn’t know how to be with a loving person, and doesn’t know how to get somebody to love and care for you.” It leads to criminal conduct because it starts escalating.

What’s tragic is if you’re on the street corner and you yelled and screamed and struck a stranger, tried to strangle them, throw dishes at them, you’d be in prison for five years. If you did that to your spouse, you get 52 weeks of anger management and they say, “It’s between you. We’re not involved.” What is typically a felony in some cases is not treated seriously, unfortunately. I think it should be treated with more punishment and more vigorous activity to cure that issue than a stranger.

Meeting the need for protection between the victim and the person that we’re putting in the abusing category is important to get the safety to be restored. Any protective strategy would be a part of that. In defining it, it’s got to be ongoing. It can’t be a one time. Do I have that correct?

Abuse usually is not one incident over 30 years. It’s a pattern of conduct that continues now then may go out of style for a year and come back or there might be more tension for whatever reason, but it typically is not isolated. People with abusive personality types or needs for that contact will leave someone who won’t play along and go find someone else. That’s unfortunate, but that behavior may travel with that person from partner to partner.

It seems like it’s also common in North America. I was looking at some of those numbers that you’ve got. Every nine seconds?

Every nine seconds, a person, typically a woman but not only, is abused in the United States physically or emotionally in some significant way, which means it’s always going on. One in three teens, 1 in 3 women experience abuse at some point in their lives. Over half of all the 911 calls to emergency services is domestic-related. It’s common in North America is the bottom line.

Over half of 911 calls. That was something that was shocking to me. The other one is common. The government has created a structure. What is the structure that they created? Is there a system about it?

There are different pieces. There is a law enforcement piece. Where I live, they have a deputy and an investigator assigned to domestic violence whom I know well and they’re very competent. They know what’s going on. There is the court structure where you have restraining orders, temporary orders, permanent orders, and orders of protection. There’s a whole set of courtrooms and judges for that. There are the domestic violence centers, treatment programs, rehab for abusers, anger management system. The government has put a lot of money into this. It’s worthy of more, believe it or not. We’re just scratching the surface.

Abuse usually is not one incident over 30 years. It's a pattern of conduct that continues, stops, and comes back. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t have anything to do with income, race, sexual preference, gender? That makes a lot of sense. It’s a little bit everywhere, isn’t it?

It’s not linked to income, race, sexual preference, gender. It is something that’s transmitted from person to person. It’s like a contagion, a disease. That’s the factor that’s most important. It isn’t your ethnic heritage or your faith or anything like that.

Let’s take a look at a typical abuser, their characteristics.

The number one trait is that an abuser will blame the victim for everything. “You make me feel bad. It’s your fault. If you didn’t do this, I wouldn’t feel this way.” There’s a reluctance to take responsibility for something and that’s the hook. That’s where a sincere person says, “I want them to be happy. How can I make them happy?” While the abuser is going to blame the victim for everything no matter what. That’s the first issue.

Second one, does it seem like it makes a judgment, sets rules, those kinds of structures? Can you see how the judgments of the rules would take place in this?

The abuser likes to set the scope of ethics, “This is what’s permitted. This is not permitted. This is right. This is wrong. You do this. You go here,” and the victim doesn’t get a say in it. Typically, the victim has to follow those rules and the abuser will ignore the needs of others. Unless it’s a way to manipulate the behavior of someone, then they’ll use that. Otherwise, they don’t care about the other person. There’s sometimes a big lack of empathy and understanding or other people. They’ll focus on their needs and they have no empathy. It’s about them and what they want and how they feel. The other person’s job is to accommodate that.

I can see how they’re focusing on meeting their own needs and having no empathy. Tell me this thing about immature, sociopath, narcissistic. What are some of the thoughts that you have about those? I know it’s on this typical characteristic.

Abusers tend to be immature, meaning they’re thinking about themselves and they’re often sociopathic and narcissistic. A sociopath wants the rules for others are followed, but for themselves, they do not apply. If I’m an abuser, what’s right for you, you have to do it because the law says you have to do it. I don’t have to. You do. I’ll come after you and nitpick if you don’t do everything exactly the way the law says, but I’m above that. I’m beyond the law. Narcissism is a love of themselves and a reaffirmation of their place or their ego or their beauty possibly or their contribution to the world.

There’s an expansion that goes with this when the label immature shows up. Usually what I focus on is that there is a person that is reverting to an age when they were 12 or 7 or 4 or 15 and they’re acting out of that same belief structure or they’re trying to get those needs met that they weren’t met. An adult tantrum is there’s a six-year-old in the body of a 50-something-year-old person and the label is immature, but they’re trying to get their need for being heard and their need for choice met the same way a six-year-old would do it. This is not a good strategy, but it’s going to show up in the category called abuse because they can’t see that it’s at the expense of the other person.

Forms Of Domestic Abuse: The controlling type wants to keep their partner as property who cannot leave, who is afraid to or unable to or doesn’t have the resources to move on.

Typically, those with the abuser characteristics are referring or recalling an earlier time. They’re going back to that time. That’s common where their parents ignored them or some need were not met, whatever need it was. They’re going back to that time. That’s exactly right.

The sociopath, and the way you were describing it was pretty good. The rules apply to you, but they don’t apply to me. That has to do with the person saying my identity and my self-worth can’t follow the rules. I’m too big for this. To you, you’re the little person over there. My self-worth is bigger. Yours is not. You’ve got to follow this and you have to work around me. You have to do these different strategies and things like that. Narcissistic is a little bit more unsettling because that’s a person that meets their need for recognition, acknowledgment, respect and self-worth as their identity. It’s like, “Can’t you see how great I am? Look at all the great things I’ve done. Nobody’s been able to do anything the way I’ve been able to do it.”

That grandiose respect, recognition part, what happens is that it’s tough. We’ve got to change our language and communication in the face of these folks that sit in the category called abusers in order to get past it. The main thing for you to get ahold of is to go and take the survey, find out how to get support around this. How can you deal with these people differently? Get the people around you that can make a difference for you. With these different typical victim categories, now that you’ve got the abuse categories, could you read through some of these?

As we said, the roles are not finite. This is a generality. They feel responsible for his or her partner and how they feel. There is an attempt to try to make them feel better, to accommodate for them, to make excuses for them, to do everything in their power to make them happy. The abuser is not going to be happy. Their job is not to be happy to complain. Be upset, that’s their job. Everybody’s happy in this relationship because one will do anything to make them happy and the other one will never be happy. They’re wrapped in this web of feeding each other’s needs. Not necessarily consciously, by the way.

I’d say the victims that I’ve worked with over the years have wonderful and noble characteristics. A lot of them are in the healthcare field. They’re teachers, nurturers, healers. They work in a daycare and work with the elderly. Their job is to support those. Sometimes that bleeds over to the relationship where if there’s an abusive personality, they take advantage of that goodness. The other thing is that some of these victims have unending forgiveness and unending patience. They believe that it’ll get better. One day they’ll change and they won’t leave because they’re trying hard to make it work. Whatever reason, guilt or connection.

The connection need is very high. The care for the other person’s need is high, but also the validation need that, “This is my role. This is my gift and I got to help them out.”

“My job is to take care of him. I’m the husband. Whatever she needs, I’ll do it.” I hear that all the time.

There’s also trying to compensate for what the partner’s misconduct would be, which would be propping up bad behavior. Having an awareness that accountability has to exist on their side. If I keep giving them a pass on accountability and saying, “They’re a nice guy,” it’s like, “No, that’s not helpful.”

Another example is, “She had one glass of wine and it set her off. If she didn’t drink that glass, she’d be polite.”

Abuse can also be emotional and controlling, and other kinds of behavior that don't necessarily require violence. Click To Tweet

The Cycle Of Violence Type

Let’s go through some of these. Abuser trait number one. I think we’ve got this cycle of violence type that you’ve outlined here. Give us a quick read-through of all the bullets and then let’s go back over them one by one.

The cycle of violence type is one of the most common forms of abuser traits. The purpose of this cycle of violence type is to get forgiveness and redemption at the end. I don’t know of too many cases that happened at 8:00 in the morning, but there are some. This person will say, “It’ll never happen again. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” Remember, they want forgiveness. “Please forgive. It’ll never happen again. Here are the excuses why I had this explosion. My mother-in-law told me something terrible. I lost my job. I was drinking. I had a lot of trouble at work. There’s a lot of traffic coming over here,” whatever reason they can give as to why they exploded. “It will never happen again. I promise you that’s it. I learned my lesson.” Typically, the destruction is property destruction, yelling and screaming, lots of noise, slamming doors, threatening suicide, “I’ll hurt myself if you don’t come back to me.” They break things.

These can be dangerous, but they’re not as dangerous as some other traits. The cycle of violence type tends to build up tension and the frequency of events becomes more rapid. Maybe the first three months there’s one event and then the next three months there are two events. The next three months, three events, and these go on for years. Finally, there are 1 or 2 events now because there has to be a constant need for forgiveness. The concept is, “The more bad things I do, the more I’ll be forgiven. They have to be more and more horrendous. I have to step it up each time. I can’t go back and repeat the same thing. I’ve got to do more.” There’s a pattern where unfortunately both parties are emotionally connected to this behavior and they’re almost anticipating. Is it going to be now or in 0.5 hours?

The setup is sitting right there. The cycle of things and the psychological world, they’ll call this the shame cycle. There’s a good troll, a rebellion, a release and there is an apology or a submit. Control, rebellion, submit. It’s interesting but the main thing is that it is a dynamic that both people are playing the abuser and the victim. What I’d like our readers to take away from this is that there is a way out. There is a way to go like, “I could stare into this with my adult mind and I can speak to and meet my own need for protection, meet my own need for progress to take place.” The takeaway is there is a shame cycle. Two parties are participating in this, both the victim and the abuser.

To get a clear focus on how we respond to this because the adult response to this is both two things, “I got to provide protection for each person and I’ve got to get it emotionally safe so that they can get closure on the relationship if it’s not working because of the dynamic that they’re in and/or get in the process of getting into the healing of the relationship,” which also some people do too. Getting some guidance, coaching, counseling and healing work to take place. The takeaway is if you’re reading this and you know somebody, forward this to them so they can start the process of getting the support they need through Jonathan or other wonderful care practitioners that are out there to the cycle of violence and get in front of this. Let’s take a look at the second abuser. What are some other things that you’ve categorized and been able to study?

The Sadistic Type

Abuser trait number two, this one’s scary. The first one was bad, but this one’s even worse. We call it the sadistic type. This trait is causing fear in others. The more afraid they are for their lives, the more paralyzed they are to act, the better. The purpose is to create fear. One way is to use physical torture, even killing animals or killing people to create fear. The more innocent the animal, the more innocent the child, the more effective creating fear is. They demonstrate power by breaking things, smashing doors or crashing the car. “I could break you just like this ironing board.” This is common and I’m not sure why.

You might know. They may be burning their victim’s feet or between their toes with cigarettes, but they don’t smoke, just as a tool to create pain. They often want to strike the face, deform the face, make scars, give someone a black eye and let them lie about how they got it. They punch pregnant women, kick them in the stomach, going right after what the woman most fears is harm to the child. These folks are a little bit more serious and this could be deadly. The real trade here is that the escalation of torture and pain has to increase to keep fear going. It doesn’t level out. It gets worse. This is dangerous.

Getting physical safety and emotional safety from the experience of being in a relationship with somebody that has these traits is important. That’s a big reason why you do the work you do. You’ve written the book and studied this out to see if we can get some protection. The inside part of this story, you’re talking a lot about the fear part of it. The weird part about this story is what is happening inside the person. What’s happening inside the person is that this sadistic person is trying to tragically, and at the expense of others, tries to get the other person to feel helpless, hopeless, isolated from others that they can’t get support.

It’s a tragic form of empathy. “I’m going to get you this other person to feel helpless and hopeless so I don’t have to experience helpless and hopeless inside me the way I did when I was a child, the way I did with the boss I had, the way I did with the priest that did what he did, the way I did with my mother-in-law, the way what she’d said or did, or my stepmother, the way she said or did.” The transfer of pain is a big part of the sadistic experience because if they felt helpless, who wants to feel helpless? I might as well get somebody else to feel helpless.

Forms Of Domestic Abuse: Where some domestic violence centers and other treatment programs fall a little short on is looking at the victim’s needs but not the cause of it.

The tragic part is the transference of pain. The abuser, the sadistic-type is saying that what’s happening in their body is, “I feel pain, helpless and hopeless, but I don’t want to feel those things. I’d rather make this other person feel helpless and hopeless or this other animal or somebody else feels helpless and hopeless so I don’t have to. I’d rather see helpless and hopelessness on your face than me experiencing helpless, hopeless and take accountability for it.”

It’s about transferring accountability and getting empathy by making someone else suffer. The reason why hits and deforms the face is, “I see you feeling helpless and hopeless in my direction. I don’t want to see that, so I’m going to try to wipe that emotion off of your face.” That is a tragic way that somebody is doing this to function. They don’t know that you know why or what they’re doing it. They’re not connected to the trauma point in their consciousness or the languages that they’re saying to themselves.

A good point is a lot of abusers are not aware that this is abuse. I’ve spoken with many, “Am I doing that? Is that how she sees it, how he perceives me?” It’s like they’re very surprised there’s not a connection to their behavior and no accountability. Sometimes you tell them and they go, “I was bad.” I had one guy who was bad. He would hurt his wife often. When we talked about it, I could tell you he’s completely changed. He took responsibility. He understood what he did. He understood where it came from and it maybe took a week or two and I’m proud of him. He came out of it and it’s been five years. He’s been good. He moved on and got remarried. He’s fine. Hopefully, he’ll stay that way. He had to deal with his issue from the past and it was very tough for him to make that breakthrough, but he did it. It could be done.

The Controlling Type

Let’s take a look at abuser trait three. We’ve got some controlling type energy showing up with this. Let’s take a look at these elements.

The controlling type is different from sadistic. Their intention is to own a person like property. They’re not trying to create fear. They’re trying to create a submission. They’re dominant and their partner is subordinate. They take away items of communication, like a cell phone. “You can’t call your family. You can’t have money. You can’t have credit cards. I’m going to decide who you talk to, what you say. I’m afraid you’re going to leave me, so you’re not going to have any friends. You’re not going to meet anybody, so you can’t leave me. I’m going to drop you off and pick you up from work. I’m going to make all the decisions and I’m going to complain and degrade you to make you feel bad, to lower your self-esteem so that you won’t leave me.” The controlling type wants to keep their partner as property who cannot leave, who is afraid to or unable to or doesn’t have the resources to move on. That’s the whole idea here.

The Stalker-Revenger Type

You can see the helpless, hopeless thing comes back into this place as well as an emphasis on getting the person to submit and lose their choice. A lot of times, the opposite of the word ‘control’ is the word ‘choice’. “I’m going to take choices away because choices were taken away from me.” They’re putting this entire pressure on and usually they have a lot of noes, judgments, should and shouldn’t in their consciousness. “Because I own this, I own you. I’m going to be the controlling parent. I’m going to hover. I’m going to take all these things away.” The main thing is getting support around this. Let’s take a look at the fourth one. What’s this stalker-revenger type? What’s this one about?

Stalking and the revenge type, there are different forms, but the purpose of this abuser trait is to punish others, to find and create a way to get the victim upset, to be rejected. Once the abuser feels that rejection, they feel permission to punish the person to go after them. It’s a complete setup. A lot of stalkers will sit outside someone’s work or follow them from home or meet them by accident in the store and acting out revenge.

They’re not upset with the person. It’s this acting out piece. Is that correct?

Yes. What’s even scarier is some stalkers that I’ve followed and worked with, clients that had many stalkers, one pretty young woman, had eight. They rotate. There was one guy, we followed him for a week and he had three different victims. He was going after one lady on Monday, another lady on Tuesday, another one on Friday, and then go back to the first one on Saturday. He was rotating his victims. He was trying to get any of them angry but be far enough away where there was a mystery and there must be something going on. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know any of them. He was trying to be irritable at a distance and feel like he has power over them. “They can’t stop me from watching them. They don’t know I’m here. They did see me. They might forget me, but I’ll be here tomorrow. They’ll see me again. They’re going to begin to fear for their lives. When they reject me and they tell me not to, I can go after him and punish them.” It would be dangerous as well, but it’s a sad way of getting attention, I would guess.

Abusers focus on their needs, what they want, and how they feel. The other person's job is to accommodate that. Click To Tweet

Attention, I would probably replace that with the connection. I think it’s a tragic way to get a connection with the person. It’s not a real relationship, but it is somewhat of a relationship. It’s not a real partnership, but it is somewhat of a partnership. It also plays against emotional safety. They don’t have the courage to have a real relationship with a real human being and deal with the real rejection of, “I know that we met, but listen, you’re not my type. I’m odd in my own world. I’m doing my own thing here. I have this, I’m over here. It’s not a fit for between you and me.”

There are two parts to this behavior, two traits, but it comes out in two ways. There’s a stalking type and the revenge type, which is essentially the same in a relationship and they’re building up in waiting to take revenge. They’re going to drive their partner away and then punish them for leaving. It’s got the same purpose of punishment. I put them together. Our research shows that these abuses with this trait can switch back and forth from stocking to revenge in a relationship and not in a relationship back and forth. The motivation is the same, but the manifestation is a little bit different.

This embarrassment, it’s almost like they’re trying to get their self-worth or their respect met at the expense of another person because, “You lost it. I didn’t lose it. You’re the one who had gotten angry. All I was doing is doing this small little thing over here.” How could that be?

They have their family or their friends or their coworkers see action by the victim and turn it into an embarrassing moment for them. It makes for some reason happy.

The Codependent Type

It validates that self-worth thing again. Let me take a look at four. It’s different than number five, the codependent type because there is a different dynamic altogether.

The codependent type has two variations, two manifestations. One is an emotional codependent and the other is a chemical codependent. Sometimes they’re both present and sometimes one or the other. The purpose of this abuser trait is to link all their problems to the outside conditions that exist. “If I only had one more beer, if I had only one more pill, if I had only one more relationship, everything would be fine.” It’s never internal. That’s the issue. The external is the issue. Constant emotional contact or they always have to be talking and touching and saying things. Being quiet is a difficult thing for them. They change partners quickly and instantly. You’ve seen probably a homeless couple that pop out of an alley of two people of similar age with a similar demeanor, talking fast or talking slow.

They probably met twenty minutes ago or two years ago, but you can’t tell because they’re instantly in a relationship until they find someone better. They also only want a partner that enables that dependency. They don’t take a partner who won’t play along. If they find a partner who plays along, who provides the drugs or provides the emotional connection and they’re constant emergencies. In some cases, there’s the ambulance and the fire department, the police department and the Department of Child and Family Service. There are all these things going on. “We’re going to lose the house. We’re out of money. We don’t have food.” This happens five times a day. It isn’t like once a year. They need a partner that will enable that narrative and will sustain that narrative.

The controller person also could have the submitting person right next to it and that’s that codependent piece, the cycle of things that you’re talking about here. There’s no stability in the relationship and there’s no stability with emotions. That’s the thing. They’re medicating their emotions with a chemical or they’re medicating their emotions with a relationship. It’s a similar type of medication that I’m getting the same fill. It’s a spiritual connection piece that this person is putting the emphasis on the dependency of emotional management. It’s difficult. When you take a look at these and there’s an overreaction, there’s a drama. That’s a roller coaster ride. It’s like, “You didn’t do it. You didn’t say this. You didn’t do this, you didn’t say this.” It’s very challenging there too. The combinations of 2 or 3 traits are very common. Let’s talk about these common traits a little bit.

IIP 10 | Forms Of Domestic Abuse

Ending The Abuse

A victim maybe has a personality type or a certain receptiveness that make victimization easier. Generally, an abuser will have 1 or 2 or 3 of these traits. I’ve seen 5 once out of maybe 1,000. We’ve measured hundreds, maybe a thousand of these conditions. They rarely have all five. Mostly 2 or 3. Usually, there is a couple of these together. The traits are important because you have to identify the trait to know the remedy. Where I find some domestic violence centers and other treatment programs a little short is they’re looking at the victim’s needs, but they’re not looking at the cause of the victims’ needs. These traits, they’re abuser-based. They’re not based in the victim. The abuser brought them to the relationship. The victim did not. They may have certain characteristics that make it easier to be victimized, but you can’t blame the victim for what someone else does.

Having an awareness that it might be that one-directional piece is important. They like to run the narrative. It says it may affect religion, money, transportation. What does that mean to you? What’s your thought?

Domestic abuse has a lot of manifestations. It can affect when someone can go to church or chapel or synagogue. They won’t let you go. We had one gentleman who was Catholic and his wife tell the priest that his wife was bad because she wouldn’t sleep with them because he was sleeping with other women. I heard this from the priest. He got the priest to tell the woman, “Be a good wife. Your job is to be a good wife and sleep with him. God will take care of him with how he’s cheating on you, but you need to be a good wife.” This abuser was able to get a priest to buy-in.

It’s unsettling is what it is. Jonathan, when I hear you say that the priest was asking the wife to be a good wife still, let God take care of this other guy with this guy’s affairs and sleep with him no matter what he is saying or doing, this is when the systems and the different people inside the systems are not helping or allowing the abuse to continue instead of being a sobering, scary honesty line and go on. “If the person’s doing something and it’s not working for you, then there’s got to be a different conversation taking place.” Otherwise, it could escalate or it could even start in the place of, “I’m going to put my power over.” Any form of power over that takes away the choice of another human being, has some problems to it and leads us down to this victim abuse through-line, which is tough and rampant in our society.

Having 2 or 3 traits in itself makes it much more complicated and much more dangerous because it could be moving back and forth between character types, between characteristics. Taking hostages, for example, “I get the children, you can’t have them. I have your car. You can’t drive. I have your phone. I have your ID.” Those are hostages. It may prevent someone from working. It may prevent someone from having a connection with their children. There’s a profound effect on other people who even witnessed this behavior because this is spread by the observation that experienced disease. We want to try to do all we can to stop this or to help out.

To provide support and protection, it imprints in the children. There’s good documentation of early childhood imprint. Where the child grows up as anxious, nervous, worried and scared, he grows up as angry, furious, aggravated, and irritated. Why do they have those emotions solidly in their conscious/subconscious minds is because of the imprinting that’s taking place.

Medical research has indicated that when a child hears screaming and yelling and banging in the other room, they pick up on this as early as one, maybe even earlier. That imprints them with a tendency towards violence and towards abusive behavior or abusive and acceptance. They don’t have to see it. They can feel and hear it. Imagine an eight-year-old or a six-year-old how they’re impacted by observing, even if it’s someone across the street observing on an abusive relationship.

This is the book that you wrote, Ending The Abuse. There are other books on the marketplace too. The reason why I like this picture is it’s all about no talking, no choice, no expression. If you’re shutting down and not able to talk about things because they could get violent, that’s when you know that you need to get support from a private investigator, a police officer, the court system, counselors. You got to be able to keep the expression moving so that the abuse can get a light shining on it. There’s nothing like a big spotlight to be shown onto either the word abuse or those abusive experiences, as well as to disinfect shame. As soon as you talk through it, it starts to disappear. What a great contribution here and I bet it was something to write this and put this information together. Tell us a little bit about that experience in writing this book. What were some of the wonderful a-ha’s and things that you went through?

There are lots of a-has. One is that most victims have the same story to tell, almost identical. There are millions of abusers, maybe 10 or 20 million adult abusers. There are millions of stalkers. The FBI and I looked at the research estimate. There are about 3 million people being stalked at any given time in the United States. The way that this shows up is a little bit different country to country. The number one thing that would tell us if there’s an abusive relationship is if the partner is afraid of what their partner will think or do if they say something about it. If you’re unsure and you think they’re going to get mad, if you seek help or ask somebody, likely you’re in an abusive relationship.

To be certain, we do have the two free surveys, the characteristics of a victim, and the characteristics of an abuser. There are links on the website at or at the book website They’re confidential. They’re instant. There are 25 questions, English and Spanish. That will tell you a lot more. The book also talks about remedies. The remedies are geared towards a person deciding it’s enough and moving on. If someone has not decided to move on, telling them to move on will not help. I think a person has to come to that conclusion themselves rather than moving on.

There’s the fear. Sometimes it’s the pile of crap metaphor. Have you ever heard of the pilot crap metaphor, Jonathan? They’re in a pile of crap is what they’re in and they’re complaining about the crap. Their crap is up to their neck. It smells. This crap smells. I got it. You won’t believe the crap that I’m in. What this person is doing to me is crap. You say, “Come out now. Come out. Come on out of here.” They look back at you and gently feel sad and helpless and go, “At least it’s warm.” It’s like, “No, that’s not where you want to default. To be in a warm pile of crap and tolerate the smell.” It’s like, “Come on out. Deal with the potential that it might be a little chilly once in a while, but also realize the smell will go away the further you get away from the pile of crap that you’re in.”

The person has to want to get out. They’ve got to decide it’s enough internally. I don’t deserve it. It’s hard to do that when you’re being beaten down every day, when they’re told how badly they are. How badly they clean, they aren’t worth anything. No one will want them. Your family won’t take you back. I’ve heard all those stories. A person’s self-esteem is eroded. It’s hard for them to come out of it. We’re here to help. There are agencies. There’s a domestic violence hotline. It’s a toll-free number. My office is standing by if anyone needs any assistance or guidance. Also, there are a lot of free services available. If someone is abusive, it’s not restricted to victims. Abusers don’t want to be in this way either and there are ways for them to come out too. We’re not blaming anyone here. We’re not labeling them for experiencing something as a child and now they’re acting out. We don’t blame them for what they experienced as a child.

It was a rough go back then. We might as well get some healing and some support for them too. Instead of making one person wrong and one person a saint for being a victim, it’s like, “No, that’s not what we’re doing here. What we’re doing is figuring out how to get support for the dynamics.” Jonathan, this has been interesting. What a great contribution to getting people in a discussion in order to keep shedding light on something that’s painful for our nation, for human beings and their existence, and see if we can provide some support around that. It’s been a lot of fun.

Thank you.

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5 Questions To Ask An Attorney Before Giving A Retainer

Thinking of hiring an attorney for something that’s going on in your life? There’s a few things you might have to consider before paying that large retainer. Jonathan Kraut and seasoned business owner Bill Stierle discuss the considerations you should be making before getting serious about hiring a specific lawyer or law firm. You might think that these considerations are cut-and-dry, but it does tend to get a little more complicated than that. Be prepared to do your work before making the final call.

Listen to the podcast here:

5 Questions To Ask An Attorney Before Giving A Retainer

How To Identify The Qualifications And Approach An Effective Attorney Or Law Firm Before Handing Over Your Hard-Earned Money

Our topic, it’s a brief one. It is Five Things to Ask an Attorney Before Giving a Retainer. I’d say it’s important, especially if you have hard-earned money and you want to hand that over to somebody. First, before you call, there are some things you want to do with the law firm that you think might help you. You want to make sure that they’re licensed. Go to your bar association and check and see if they have any complaints and make sure that they’re licensed. You want to scan for social media issues. Check the internet for news articles and other items that might be of value. Go to their website, get a feel for the organization, see some photos and try to identify their main message. I’ll talk about why the main message is important. Make an appointment. Try to see an attorney or someone professional, not just a receptionist because you have a lot of information to review and you want an expert to give you some feedback. Make sure that the law firm handles your case.

Let me give you some examples. A family law attorney probably is not the best one to go to for a probate or property case. A civil attorney may not be the right one to handle a divorce. Some attorneys specialize in criminal work, some specialize in domestic violence, some in DUI and so forth. If you need an attorney, you have something that you believe is worthy of filing a case or a suit or you were charged with a crime, you want to make sure that the attorney is on your side and it’s the right one to you. Get that in your head, please, that not all attorneys are the same. They specialize and using the right one will be helpful. We want you to succeed and we want fairness to prevail. Check that before you call.

After you make an appointment, you want to confirm that there’s no consultation fee and gather all the relevant documents and information. What’s this about the consultation fee? Some attorneys are into charging you money for everything, and if they asked you to pay them to listen to you, probably their purpose is not going to be about you. It’s going to be about them. Unless they are specialized firms and that’s the standard for their industry or that specific task, I would say probably not do that. Relevant documents. Don’t walk in with a big box and say, “I’m going to start these later. Half the things are at home. I don’t have this.” You want to have everything set up and ready because you want to respect their time and the clearer your presentation, the better it is for you. If you can bring in a timeline of occurrences or list something or even a document that shows what happened in what order and that will help the attorney be clearer as to what they can do to help you.

Hiring An Attorney: Have everything set up and ready because you want to respect their time, and the more clearly your presentation, the better it is for you.

Remember to stay focused on the case. Don’t be talking about your family and when you came over from this date or this country to that country or that state or moved from town to town, you want to talk about the case itself. Respect their time and try not to be too chummy because it’s not about being friends. It’s about being represented fairly. You want to remember that they’re your advocate. They can’t be your advocate if they’re not sure as to what you want them to do. Have the discipline not to complain, not to vent, not to show anger. Try to resist showing revenge. It’s a mechanical process. The legal system is about documents, subpoenas, hearings, testimony, depositions and so forth. It’s not about emotion. Even though emotion might be helpful when it’s time, getting ready for the case and putting the case together should not be an emotional process. We’re going to talk about some other considerations to look for.

A lot of law firms that have huge advertisements on TV, a lot of them are about settling. They want as many cases as they can to settle as many as they can. It’s a cash business. Somebody has to pay for the ads and settling cases is how they pay for it. If you’re about cash and you want money and greed is something that appeals to you, some firms are about greed. You guys fit in fine. If it’s about money for them and money for you, that might be a good match. If it’s about revenge and anger and hostility, that doesn’t always carry well in the courtroom. Some attorneys gravitate towards that because they feel that’s the client that they like.

You want to verify the firm is interested. I would caution you if some attorneys are slow in responding, hard to reach, you leave messages, and they don’t call you back, nobody keeps in touch with you, you feel abandoned, that’s not a good sign. Maybe they’re busy and a lot of good attorneys are busy. I’d say the ones that I work with work seven days a week and they’re great, but they do have someone call for them if they’re not available. Some attorneys don’t have a good support staff. If you walk into an office and it’s one person in the back room, I’d say, with no help, with no assistance, with no clerk, with no legal secretary, that’s probably not a good sign. Some firms are in the high rent district and who pays rent is you. Their fees are usually going to cover that.

Let’s say they would normally charge $400 an hour, but they’re charging you $700, that’s for rent. It might be worth it, but sometimes you don’t want to pay their rent. Consider that. Most investigative firms work with attorneys on a regular basis. We work with maybe twenty generally. You want to check to see if the law firm has at least an agency that they work with if they need to. Having a firm, using a PI organization, Private Investigation organization on a regular basis is probably a good idea.

What Are The Steps, Filings, Hearings, Motions, And Other Issues That Might Be Needed?

Let’s go to the questions. Question number one, you can ask what the steps, filings, hearings, motions and other issues are that might be needed. There’s rarely a walk-in, walk-out situation. For example, in a criminal case, you could have an arraignment, then information’s exchanged and investigations. Data review is conducted, subpoenas could be issued then a preliminary hearing, which could be a week long. After more information exchange or more witness testimony and so forth, then there’s a hearing. There are steps along the way and each one has a cost.

A lot of good attorneys are busy. Click To Tweet

You want to be clear as to what the process is. In a civil case, it might be different point. For family domestic, you might have child protective services, you might have hearings, you might have negotiations and you might have mediation. All these things may happen having nothing to do with the issue that you’re trying to attend to, but those are steps that are usually mandatory and for a good reason. You want to write these down. You want to get an estimate of the timing of these events. When should they occur? How long should they take? You want to find out, are there any court fees or filings that you have to pay for in addition to the attorney? That first question is a good sense of what the process looks like.

How Might The Case Conclude With The Current Information Evidence Provided?

We’ll move on to question number two. How might the case conclude with the current information evidence that you provided? If you have witnesses, evidence and information, try to get an assessment from the law firm of what might happen. What’s the range of outcome? What’s the best that could happen? What’s the worst that could happen? Remember that no attorney can guarantee anything, even though they have a lot of experience. I’ve seen juries and judges come up with all things and who knows, but you want to get a reasonable range of what you think based on the attorney’s experience and the information you provided. What’s a reasonable range of expectations? Be ready for the worst scenario. A lot of times you get blindsided, something else happens and you have to be prepared. You cannot pay for an outcome. You can only pay for the process. That’s a big thing to know.

What Additional Evidence Is Needed To Get A Better Result Or Ruling?

Question number three, what additional evidence is needed to get a better result or ruling? This is critical. A lot of times, you walk in with things that you think are adequate, “This is what I need. I’m ready to go.” The attorney goes, “No, we need some witnesses. We need some camera footage. We need text messages. We need to print these out and so forth.” Rarely will you have everything ready when you walk in. If you do, you probably do what I do for a living. It’s tough to have everything ready. Be ready to do some homework. Brace yourself. You want to ask how an investigator will impact the case. It’s common that investigators will issue subpoenas, take statements, measure distances, talk to witnesses.

It’s important that be considered because perhaps, spending a few dollars on getting information introduced into the court will change the whole case. In fact, we’ve seen that a lot. You want to write down specific things to come to mind like who are the names of the witnesses that should be contacted? Are there any documents, videos or photos that might be relevant? Do you have any subpoenas that you think might be needed to be issued? You can’t issue those. Only an attorney can issue the subpoena. You’ve got to get all this in your head. How will that change the case?

Does Your Firm Use An Investigations Team To Support Your Efforts?

Question number four, does your firm use an investigations team to support your efforts? Why is this important? I say a small percentage, maybe half or less, don’t need attorneys for your case, but perhaps more than half will. The reason is there are a lot of things that only investigators can do. The attorney cannot go out and talk to witness and then testify as to what the witness told them because they’re in the court itself and they cannot cross-examine themselves. They use us or a third party to get information that could be cross-examined. That’s important to know. Especially regarding child support, abuse cases, criminal cases, you need to have an agency, not the law firm that can provide support. An outside agency can gather information, can be cross-examined, can testify and can introduce information and so forth.

Investigations teams will help a law firm. Usually, a law firm will use the same one or a few of them. If you want to know, do you have an investigations team that you always work with or do you have a PI they always work with? A good relationship between the investigator and the attorney is crucial because they’re on the same page. There are some things again that PIs will do, something we call a dirt search. Is there anything in the person’s past, the person that you’re opposing or you’re suing or is involved with you in some way that could show that their behavior is not wanted or is not ethical? That will often repudiate their claims and their assertions. That can be helpful. The judge wants to know who’s who? Who is telling the truth and who is not? Who is exaggerating, who is not? Who’s highly emotional when it doesn’t matter, and highly emotional when it does matter? They want to know these things.

Hiring An Attorney: Expect to pay thousands of dollars for good support. Professional support from a doctor of law is worth it.

What Are Your Fees And Rates And How Are These To Be Paid?

Question number five. What are your fees and rates and how are these to be paid? You’ve gone through, you’ve shown your information. The attorney says, “Yes, we do that. We’re interested. I’ve got a PI firm that I work with. I’ve got a good staff. This is our expertise. We do this all the time. We charge $1,500 an hour and I need a $100,000 upfront.” For most of us, that’s not going to work. You want to have a phased payment process. A retainer is a money that you hand to somebody to open the case and get started.

What does that retainer pay for? Some high-end law firms charge high fees, run up a big bill and they’re not any better or worse than a lot of companies that charge half. Some of them are worth it. You’ve got to decide what the value is of winning this case or getting the right result that you’re looking for. A word of caution, the more you spend does not guarantee what you want. In fact, spending money does not mean that you can pay for an outcome. You have a better chance of getting what you want if you do it right. A lot of times, it’s not the dollar amount, it’s the way that the firm goes about their business, the resources that they use and the methodology that they follow. You want to make sure, and this is important, that you don’t run out of money halfway. The law firm drops you and you’ve got to start over again and pay somebody all over again. That’s not good.

You want the same firm to take you from beginning to end if you can. Remember that attorneys are doctors, they’re doctors of law. Their purpose is to use their expertise and experience and many of them deserve a lot of money. They’ll do a great job, something that you or I or a non-attorney cannot handle. I’ve been in court hundreds of times and I would never represent myself. I have no idea what’s going on half the time. I don’t know what these motions are. I don’t know what this code or that code means. You want to get a professional that understands this format because if the format is not followed, then evidence and information sometimes cannot be admitted.

You want to have a retainer or payment process that you can handle. Some firms take a big retainer and then charge you every step of the way. Some firms don’t take any retainer, but they take the money at the end, like for traffic collision or an accident. You’ve got to decide what is right for you. Expect to pay thousands of dollars for good support. Professional support from a doctor of law is worth it. We’ll help you get what you want. Maybe there’s no promise or guarantee, but if you have a substandard process, the product will probably be substandard.

I hope that is helpful. If you have any questions or you’re not sure, your bar association usually has people that can help you determine what attorney you need from domestic to probate to criminal to civil. There are all kinds. There are some that specialize in abuse and sexual assault, domestic violence or protection. You want to maybe get the bar association to help you identify the kind that you want. You want to interview people and see who you feel comfortable with. They’re your partner in the lawsuit or action that you were involved in. You want to have someone that you like and that believes in your view. You may convince them, but it may not convince the quarter jury. At least that’s a good start.

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Remember that the more information you have, the better support you can receive. I want to invite everyone to go to our website, Call my office, call me, we’ll try to help you if we can, even with advice. Information is power, good decisions start with great information. Please try to find the right law firm. Try to be careful and deliberate about it. Don’t be emotional. Don’t be crazy. It’s a business issue, essentially and it will take money. My hope is that everyone will succeed and the fairness will prevail. Thank you for reading.

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