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.

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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.

No attorney can guarantee anything, even though they have a lot of experience. Click To Tweet

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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Advantages Of Having An Investigator Verified Seal

Not all background checks in organizations are thorough enough to warrant the best profile of an individual. By having a seal, a client is more secure about the quality of work that one provides. In this episode, Jonathan Kraut and Bill Stierle discuss Jonathan’s organization’s trademarked “Investigator Verified Seal” and how it allowed private investigators in his firm to show a higher level of credibility to their clients. What is more, they discuss about its other benefits in the aspects of marketing and business growth. Listen to this episode as Jonathan and Bill talk more about credibility and safety in the organization.

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Advantages Of Having An Investigator Verified Seal

Using The Investigator Verified Seal For Marketing, For Business Growth, And Increasing Your Company Revenue

Jonathan, it’s good to see you again. As always, I’m excited to get into the information that you have provided for us. The transfer of information this way has been valuable to you, your clients, the attorneys that you serve and all the different people that come into your world that makes a big difference. It’s going to be good to start talking about how do you take advantage of the Investigator Verified Seal because a lot of people think they can wing investigations by going online and doing some searches. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that. How as a California private investigator have you been able to make a big difference with the seal? Tell us a little bit about the seal and what this is about.

A few years ago, our organization trademarked this seal because we wanted to allow our clients to differentiate between those who make invalid claims, for example, on cable, on TV and on the radio. They say our people are background checked and that should be sufficient. In fact, when they say they’re background checked, the reality is they ask them for their driver’s license or they do an instant search, which picks up 20% of the criminal cases, no civil cases and child abuse. They think they’re background checked. Trying to differentiate between a real background check by a real agency and someone who says that we are or we do, they don’t.

I’ve never thought of it this way, but it’s about how do you get trust to take place. How do you get certainty to take place as well as respect that the work you’re doing and the work you’re paying for is going to cover you in a legal setting or in a criminal setting. What a big difference and what a great idea to have an Investigator Verified Seal to create a brand and a trust that can make a difference.

Not that we’re angry at other people for saying that they’re background checked and they’re not, but we’re not trying to encourage that statement without backup.

It’s about truth. It tells the client you care. Tell us about some of the recommendations you give when you are allowing people or having people use the seal.

To use the seal with our organization and perhaps with others is that a comprehensive search must be conducted by a licensed agency and the different levels of comprehensive searches depending on the need. A client of ours can post that certificate on their wall and can tell their clients, “We have a licensed agency doing a comprehensive search.”

Regarding different marketing opportunities, you can use it in different ways.

There are organizations to put our seal on their business cards, on their letterhead. The purpose is to draw attention and to get a question like, “What is that and what does it mean?” which is wonderful because then you can say, “We have a thorough background check on our people.” We don’t sit up and say that they are. We have a third-party agency that you can call and verify that they are.

It’s like the next level of this has been certified. You see many higher quality products do this, that this is certified. This is coming from a very specific measuring agency that can make a difference.

We ask our clients if they’re willing to post them on their promotional material, on their web page. We want their clients or their potential clients to ask, “What is that? What does it mean?” It’s a great differentiation between another organization that doesn’t have anything to support their claim that people are background checked.

Trust and certainty, but reliability that’s going to start showing up. This inviting of questions, this curiosity about what the range of coverage you provide, how does this lead to increasing business? What does this next level allow your clients to do?

An Investigator Verified Seal is a very good mechanism to create trust and separate oneself from everyone else. Click To Tweet

I’ll give you a couple of examples. One is an elder care company. They’re caregivers and they have a chain of offices. They put it on their letterhead and they promote it. They put it in their brochure. They say that all their caregivers are checked by an outside agency thoroughly, which is us in this case. That allows them to, let’s say, outshine the competition. The competition may say, “We check people thoroughly.” “Do you have anything to show that you do?” “Yes, we do.” “Who does that for you?” “That’s secret. We can’t tell you.” That leads to more business because it leads to more trust with an organization that’s willing to disclose what they do and how they do it.

That leads to authority and credentialing. You want their customers to draft off of the respect and the certainty that you provide. It gives us an extra sense that there’s something more going on with this company.

When you walk into a doctor’s office, you’re looking for their certificate, their PhD or their MD, their diplomas, their awards. It’s reassuring the potential client that this is a real organization or real person that’s worthy.

It’s that stamp. What does the seal mean? What are the elements that go into getting certified like this?

When a client of ours wants to use a seal, they’ve got certain conditions. Every member of their team has to be evaluated. We go to two levels, either criminal or a comprehensive misconduct search, which includes criminal harassment, elder abuse, child abuse, the whole thing. In some cases, criminal is sufficient. The point is that an outside licensed agency conducted the search and that we can independently verify that the search was done. We also look for stalking FBI reports. We go into anything that might give more confidence than we’ve checked. The client feels better about our check.

It’s turning over the various different rocks that the information is held underneath. It’s jumping through those extra hoops, which is one of the things that you and your trained professionals that work with you provide.

We know where to look and we know how to get information. We know what rocks there are and we know how to get information from under them.

You also recommend having these things periodically checked too to give that added enforcing trust.

Insurance carriers have told us that every two years, in most cases, is sufficient. A lot of individuals who have been with an organization for a couple of years, maybe somewhere between maybe 3% to 12% will have arrests or convictions after they were hired, especially if they’re relating towards money or taking care of other people or treating coworkers fairly. You want to recheck in some cases like hospitals, maybe elder and childcare. You want to check every year. What if we bring someone in a few years later and something horrendous occurs? It’s in the public record. We don’t know and we assume that that person’s fine. We don’t check what if they do something terrible like they had done before. Maybe not in a business setting, but in a private setting. We should know about that. We shouldn’t assume that anyone working for us is always going to be perfect all the time.

That’s consistency. What else does this seal represent? What are some other things that it does?

It says that a legally-licensed agency performed a search and only licensed investigators can assess character. Therefore, it has to be a PI agency. There is a report on the letterhead signed by somebody in the personnel file of the individual and also, the agency has a copy of that file in case anyone wants to verify.

Investigator Verified Seal: With an Investigator Verified Seal, the odds of being with inappropriate people are very much reduced. People feel safer and more likely to stay at a company that has people like them.

The tracking is there.

That’s important. Let’s say one of our clients says, “My potential business partner wants to know how do we do this and how is it done?” They can call us and ask us directly. They don’t have to guess or make up something. Rather than go to the authority, get the information and everyone should be satisfied.

Relevant counties, states, are you looking all over the place to see where the information is?

We’re looking everywhere. We’re not doing a quick $15 search online, “Are they in the directory or not?” We’re digging for new records, for warrants, for things that might be relevant to the employer or to whoever it is we’re looking for.

How do this seal and your process lead to better recruiting of the staff confidence? What does it take?

What we found out was that a lot of people who want respect to be treated correctly on the job are worried about their coworkers. When they go through a rigorous background check and they pass, which most people do, they are aware that everyone else went through the same thing. The odds of being with inappropriate people are very much reduced. They feel safer and more likely to stay at a company that has people like them.

It’s also reassuring that every year or two years, it’s to promote self-reporting. It becomes safer to talk about bad things that take place, I’m guessing.

When everyone knows that in a year or two they’re going to run another one, it’s likely that someone that had an issue will go to their management or their team and say, “I had an issue,” and deal with it upfront knowing we’re going to find out anyway. Knowing how embarrassing it would be if we disclose it, some people rather come forward. It’s not always necessary to terminate somebody with a record, but if they’re undergoing a legal process, the employer should know and maybe that person needs support. We can’t always judge them as being inappropriate. We don’t know the answer until the case is over.

Is there a standard of accountability then?

That’s right. We’re encouraging a self-reporting in this process and a recheck makes that more likely.

When there is this self-reporting, is this why certain organizations say, “We can regulate it ourselves, but meanwhile they can’t regulate it themselves. In other words, “There’s not enough, I don’t know about. There’s not enough, maybe you can answer this question.” This is an integrity question. Is the industry on a scale of 1 to 10, from high integrity to low integrity? Your organization is going to be closer to high integrity. From 0 to 10, give yourself a ten, maybe a nine, but most likely a ten. What’s the industry, if you do a little navel-gazing with the industry and look at your belly button as the industry? Where is everybody? Are they like a five? How well they track things?

Information is power. With good information and great information, you make good decisions. Click To Tweet

If you’re talking about online services where you click right now on your phone or go online and find somebody who’s been background checked, I will put them at a 0 or a 1. From our experience, they don’t do anything. They don’t check anything or they might charge a lot of money. There’s one organization that charges $250, $300 for you to do one on yourself, which is way too much. They’re missing a lot of vital items like civil harassment, stalking. They’re missing all that. They’re not getting warrants. They’re not getting new cases. There’s no validation from the agency doing the work. In other words, they do it themselves. They’re in a different line of work and who knows what they come up with.

As far as online organizations go, it’s low and deceptive. Middle of the road, for example, security companies are reviewed. Their offices are reviewed by the state. About 1 in 3 security officers who are approved by the state that have a license and carry a badge are convicted criminals. I’d give the states in that industry maybe a three. It’s a little better to have an organization like a state do it. It’s only in that state and they give a lot of things. In the investigations field, I know a few organizations that do a misconduct search. They do a lot of criminal searches, but they’re not looking for everything. I’d say maybe it’s 6 or 7 overall in our industry where they’re not looking everywhere and they do not want to. It’s a little harder and why do it if people don’t want it?

I can appreciate it. Who can use the seals? Tell us a little bit more about this.

There are individuals who post online their availability for work like contractors, nannies, daycare, and elder care. It could be removing the trash. It could be being a gardener. It could be a plumber. It would be nice to have that seal next to their picture. If they click on the seal, there’s a link to us and we can verify that person was cleared. That’s a good mechanism to create trust and separate oneself from everyone else.

That the business is operating in the United States?

Any organization in the US can use our services.

Jonathan, I’m seeing that who can use this seal are self-employed people, hosting services on the internet at whatever internet directory that the business is operating at. You’re looking for these individuals to take advantage of this next level of certainty that they can translate to their clients, “I’m a plumber. I’ve been background checked. I’m clean on this.”

A lot of people say, “I’ve been background checked.” The question is, “What does that mean?” Mostly it doesn’t mean anything these days. We’re trying to separate the real background checks with a seal, something that can be independently verified with the statement, “I’ve been background checked,” which we find to be not only misleading but a little surreptitious. Again, a lot of these organizations that make that statement don’t have anything behind it to say that they did it other than their work.

How do you get started using this?

With our organization, we have our clients fill out a form or they can ask another organization, “Do you have a seal?” Our clients read and accept the agreement terms, which is you’re allowed to use it for free as long as you check everybody and periodically by a licensed agency. They sign it and we get them started. Usually, if they signed the agreement and they have to go back and recheck their staff, we will need about a month to go through everybody. Live scan or state searchers only check the state you’re in and federal records. We can’t assume that another agency did it correctly and comprehensively unless there’s a signed letterhead. Maybe, in that case, we might accept it as being valid.

It’s a huge difference. It sounds like the JPEG will be emailed and the person could start putting it on different places inside their environment to validate it. What we’re building is respect. We’re building trust. We’re giving some certainty about things.

Investigator Verified Seal: It’s not always necessary to terminate somebody with a record, but if they’re undergoing a legal process, the employer should know and that maybe, the person needs support.

We’re trying to get our clients more business, an advantage in the marketplace. It’s not always the cost. It’s also the services that one provides.

For more information about ways that Jonathan and his team can support you to get greater protection, why don’t we send them to your website and give you a call? I’ve experienced that many times that your staff and you are very open and ready to offer information. That’s huge.

Our email is or go to our website, We have to remind everybody that information is power with good information and great information, you make good decisions. Without information, it’s a hit and miss and so we want everyone to make good decisions.

Jonathan, this has been great. I’m looking forward to the next time we’re together. Until then, more to come.

It’s great. Thank you, Bill.

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9 Questions Employers Need To Ask Job Candidates

Assessing any person who aims to work in any company is a necessity. In this episode, Jonathan Kraut and Bill Stierle prove to us the importance of screening employees using the right questions and approach. This show is about the nine special questions that employers must ask job candidates in order to get trust and necessary information. Explaining these questions, Jonathan and Bill emphasize the need to hire somebody who is representing the truth and not posing risks to the company or organization.

Listen to the podcast here:

9 Questions Employers Need To Ask Job Candidates

Interview Methods For Employers Regarding The Mindset And View Of The Person

Information is where the power sits, Jonathan. This is where we’ve got to get knowledge transfer to take place. This show is about the nine special questions that employers must ask job candidates. It is to get trust and the information that you need in order to get the trust. The employer needs to hire the candidate. They almost need to get themselves out of the way and stay on the questions and allow trust and truth to come towards them. Isn’t that a big part of it? You’ve got to have trust and you’ve got to have the truth.

A lot of employers go through a checklist, like, “Where can you work? What hours can you work? Do you have transportation? What’s your education?” That’s all preliminary and superficial stuff that if an employer agrees that there’s a possibility they can work. They are eligible. You’ve only cracked the shell. You haven’t gotten inside the person’s head. You don’t know how they’re thinking, how they’re functioning and what’s important to them. As an employer, you can better manage and allocate resources when you understand the content. We’re trying to get inside the content, not the superficial stuff.

As well as to save time. Who wants to hire somebody and then have to rehire the same person in three or six months during the probation period? We’re thinking, “Look at all this stuff disclosed in the field of time.” I think, Jonathan, this is a left-brain, logical and analytical safekeeping function. That’s why these nine questions are helpful here because our time is so valuable to us. If we don’t get truth early, we’re trying to catch up with the truth later. Our intuition is great, but it’s only one-half of it. We’ve got to get the information that we need. This is why this first question around how many job candidates lie is valuable. Maybe you could take us through this. These are things that you’ve experienced in your research.

As an investigative firm, we’re doing this for other agencies, for employers, for people who are renting property, for people who are hiring caregivers for their children or their elderly. We internally know that just because you look at someone’s record, it is not going to tell you much more than whatever is in the public record. Probably, more than half of all crimes are not reported at all. Possibly, half of those that are reported aren’t prosecuted at all. You got to ask a few questions to find out what’s going on in someone’s head. The first alarming statistic that we’re aware of is that somewhere between 50% and 85% of those who present resumes have lied on their resume. The assumption has to be going in that if you have someone that intends to deceive an employer, an apartment owner or somebody, what kind of credibility or trust would be created if you catch them in their deception? Are you still going to hire somebody who is not representing the truth? How are they going to be regarding money or treating other people?

The word lie is significant here because there’s a scale between the color black and the color white. There’s this near truth. There’s this partial truth, “Yes, I did work for that company once. Yes, I did do this presentation for this company once.” It is a truth, but it might not be a full truth and it goes into this lie category. They’re not going to disclose things because they’re interested in meeting their needs to start over again, to get past their criminal record, to get a financial income to move beyond the mistakes of the past. We both get it. People have got to try to live their lives and at the same time, if it’s a risky piece of the equation, we may want to ask some questions to help with that. As you were saying, 15% lie about their criminal past. They do. Tell us a little bit about how some states work on this so that we could cut and tether this one out.

As an investigation agency, we’re often asked to do a criminal background check. We have to get a release in writing of the hundreds of thousands of people that we’ve assessed and analyzed. About 15%, about 1/8, 1/7 checked the box, “I do not have any criminal record. I’ve never been convicted.” We found that they have been and not only have they been, but it was not that long ago, like a year ago. We sometimes call them and say, “You checked no, but we found a criminal record. Are you disputing it? Is it a mistake?” They go, “No, I didn’t think that anyone actually checked. I’ve been hired by five companies and nobody ever checks my record. They do a quick background check in five minutes and they don’t find it. I’m surprised you found it.” I go, “All we have to do is look.” There is the expectation that you can lie and not get caught and that seems to be pretty prevalent unfortunately.

Isn’t that interesting? 60% to 70% of thefts and the company lost. Somewhere along the line, from the hiring point in order to the point where the employees are stealing things, embezzle things or misappropriate things somewhere in the employees’ mind, there’s either fairness, justice or a lack that’s coming in. You almost want to get in front of that during the interview process. There is some evidence about that.

I want to go back into why some states don’t want you to ask about conviction. In California, for example, they don’t want you to ask them if they were convicted because they don’t want to discriminate against someone who is untrustworthy or who commits a crime. They want to give them an equal chance, even though they’ve had a bad criminal past or a disreputable past to ignore it, which is insane. If someone has a substantial criminal record, they’re not learning and improving, that would be relevant to someone’s safety. There are some states that don’t want you to ask. What we say instead is, “Is there anything in your criminal or civil record that we need to know about that’s relevant to trusting you and relevant to your conduct?” That’s a way to get around it.

Even if they don’t tell you if you do a thorough criminal search or misconduct search, you’re going to find it anyway. You’re trying to assess their openness. If somebody says, “Yes, I had a DUI fifteen years ago. I had another traffic ticket ten years ago for speeding,” and they’re not in a driving situation, that probably doesn’t matter very much. However, if they’re a truck driver or a driver and they had a DUI years ago, and they didn’t go to their classes, that’s very relevant. It depends. Moving onto the next question that you had is, 60% to 70% of employees account for theft and company loss. It’s more important to watch the people who handle your cash registers, your inventory, accounting books, your credit card information about your clients or the bank information of your elderly or even property of your children. It’s more likely that theft or loss will occur from inside than outside. Unfortunately, there’s more internal theft and loss through bank tellers stealing money than there is for bank robbery. By asking the right questions, you’re going to maybe reach that wall between what they’re thinking and what they represent, which are usually not the same.

In those environments, you want to get ahead of it through the inquiry and the question asking beforehand so you can get a sense of where they might be in relation to these things. You say the sentence, “Employers are rarely able to prosecute for employee climbs.” Tell us a little bit about that. What happens there? It’s like you figure that an employer if somebody is doing a crime in-house, what’s going on there? It’s almost like the criminal needs to be from the outside before the police will get in. Tell us a little bit about that.

As we doing our investigations as a firm, a lot of work comes our way because we have to build a criminal case against the unemployed or former employee because the police won’t do it. They say it’s a civil matter. You hired that person. They stole money from you. You gave them the checking account number. It’s your fault. We don’t resolve it. We don’t care. If they steal a bicycle, we’ll put them in jail for five years, but if they steal $100,000, that’s on you.” That’s been predominantly the value of law enforcement that we see around the country. I don’t know why that is. To me, a person who’s entrusted with special access has a higher duty and a higher responsibility than a stranger that steals a bicycle. Generally, law enforcement is not interested in prosecuting internal theft.

White-collar crime versus blue-collar crime is the thing that showed up in my head. I could be completely wrong about those two terms, but at the same time, it was like, “I’d rather take or prosecute from this place outside.” That’s so interesting. I never thought about that. Here it is with this white-collar internal theft is not stealing actual property. Tell us about that.

Law enforcement and the laws that are written are geared towards property theft or hurting another person. If I steal $50,000 from you, it’s clean money. There was no physical tangible property. It’s just money, which is a concept so that doesn’t count. A lot of DAs also don’t prosecute for that because they say it’s your own internal issue. You hired them. They had a criminal background. You didn’t know. It’s your fault. You deal with it. It’s not our problem. Even information is considered not property. Information like account information, clients’ and employees’ names, phone numbers, Socials and dates of birth, they’re considering that as not actual property. We’re finding this around the country. It’s very disappointing. Don’t give up employers out there. Get some help from an agency like ours. With a little work and a little good detective work, we can put it together for you and we can get a prosecution.

That’s good to know. Just to have your net check investigation approach to this will allow the employer to get the extra support that they need in order to have a successful effort to recover something possibly, correct?

Employer Interview Questions: As an employer, you can better manage and allocate human resources when you understand who your potential employees are.

We hope so. The next issue is that some law enforcement agencies are reluctant because there’s no person that is the victim. If it’s a corporation then nobody suffered. The corporation or company has lots of money. What’s the issue? We get that as an excuse on a regular basis. You have to push law enforcement and prosecution to say that it doesn’t matter if the person is a corporation, a company or an owner. It’s still a crime and must be prosecuted.

I’ve been thinking about the different companies that I consult with, their awareness level is very low around this. Even by looking at this next sentence, “Companies are not geared to prepare cases.” You’re right. They are completely out of that view set.

There are some large companies that are very good at this. I don’t want to say who they are, but they’re very well-known. They know what to do. They have the entire staff created and focused on these issues. Medium-size companies and some large companies can’t afford to have a whole staff, a legal team and an investigative team set aside to do this. Our agency and others are able and happy to do this and we support them.

That’s that next level of support. Tell us a little about the companies hiding misconduct. I could see the PR value by reading this, but tell us a little bit of story or two about this one.

We have a lot. There are times where we definitively and completely identify how the fraud, embezzlement or loss was committed. Who did it? When they did it? How much they took? How did they take it? When do they take it? The company will say, “We don’t want to take this forward. We’re going to dismiss the person without judging them and allow them to resign voluntarily.” That means it never gets entered into the record. Nobody has any idea what happened because of our reputation and the trust of our clients will be eroded. It’s easier to accept the loss of $50,000, $100,000, $200,000 or even $1 million than to admit that they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re not watching their money. It sounds crazy but the PR value, in many cases, outweighs the monetary loss. It is hard to believe.

I can appreciate it. If a company has wrongdoing sitting there and I’m going to hire that company or this one company and I don’t hear any wrongdoing from this company, but I hear wrongdoing over here. It’s like, “Those guys don’t have their act together. These have their act together. These guys are better at concealing it than those ones are over there.”

That might be the case.

Managers also can hide misconduct too.

Especially with nonprofits, we find this to be common. The board or the executive director of a nonprofit will determine or realize that there has been some internal theft, fraud, embezzlement or misallocation and won’t bring it up to others because it makes them look bad. When we’re hired to do this, we have confidentiality. We don’t disclose without permission to anybody what’s going on. Unfortunately, our lips are sealed. If the manager says, “I know now what happened. Thank you. I’ll take care of it. We’re on our way.” The records are here. We keep everything in case they change their minds.

This is setting up the questions to ask all of a sudden. I’m thinking in my own head here, you’ve got to ask, “What was the reason you were let go of or what’s the reason why you transitioned out of that job?” Calling that person and see if they’re going to give you BS and be like, “They were a great employee.” You hear that little tone in their voice of, “But not really. They’re not.”

Employers are afraid to tell what happened. If it’s true and you’re not violating a person’s individual privacy, it’s fine. I think they always need to help each other, especially when it comes to caregiving.

That’s probably one of the best sentences on this show. Employers need to help each other with hiring. The skill and integrity of employees moving from position to position. That’s huge.

Almost everyone’s going to deal with people or money. Employers, please help each other.

What if you fail to undertake a comprehensive misconduct search? I’m guessing there are a few things that you can run through. If you’d be willing to read through these and throw a little bit of stuff in our direction, I think it’d be helpful.

A person who's entrusted with special access has a higher duty and a higher responsibility than a stranger that steals a bicycle. Click To Tweet

There are three levels of checking someone out or pre-screening. The first one is you do a peripheral view, “Are they qualified? Are they interested? Are they eligible? Can they work there?” The second one is our interview. The third one is, even if with a good interview, you want to do a comprehensive misconduct search because things in the record will help you. For example, if you don’t do one and you don’t ask the right questions, you might miss something which is possible. You may put children or the elderly or coworkers at risk. It can lead to an unsafe workplace. You might be liable for not screening correctly. In other words, you didn’t look for things as a normal person would. You might ignore the signs of unwanted character traits. For example, constant or protection against them. Civil harassment, which is not criminal, it’s civil. You’re finding all these things. You’re going to increase the likelihood of a lawsuit. You’re going to increase the likelihood of internal theft or embezzlement because you didn’t look at the record to see what was reported and what was filed. It makes a lot of sense.

It does. It’s a good checklist to start from. These questions that are coming up here for profiling, investigating or poking a stick in a positive way on your company for this candidate or associate that’s showing up. Talk to us a little bit about this profiling as a term.

Profiling assesses the mindset and view of a person. We’re not looking at their history, they’re public record history or their employment history. We’re trying to determine how they think or what is going on in their head. Especially as investigators, we do that with witnesses in criminal cases and civil cases when we interview people. We also want to apply that skill to bring someone into our organization.

The information that’s not located on the resume. It’s gathering the motivation, the representation, the conflict orientation, the pathology or predispositions. You’re getting these key characteristics to move forward.

We wanted to find some terms. Dominant motivation is what someone’s after. Someone might have recognition, wealth, ability, lack of restriction or emotional contact with people. There is something that holds all our activities together in one thread. The dominant motivation is very important because it tells you what their goal is and what they’re trying to do. Everything they do is related to that. The second term is the dominant representation. It means, how do they pretend to be or how do they portray themselves? Do they say, “I’m the greatest that ever was. I’m wonderful. I’m fantastic?” They may say, “I’m new. I’m learning. I’m open.” What did they represent themselves to be? “I’m a go-getter. I’m hard at work.” Do they say, “I’m creative, I’m innovative?” The third item, which is highly important, especially when you’re around people is their conflict orientation. When something’s not going right, how do they approach it? What do they do? Do they shoot you or do they ask for help? What is their orientation towards conflict? Finally, we’re looking at someone’s pathology or predisposition. Do they love to sue everybody when they don’t get their way because in the past they were treated unfairly? Were they abused as a child? Do they have some remorse or regret or revenge going on that’s a subtext to their activity? If you can find it, you can present a better picture of what that person’s profile is.

Can You Tell Me What Our Firm Does?

These series of questions is going to pull the covers back on this and pull the curtain back so we can see what’s inside. Question number one is, “Can you tell me what our firm does?”

When you interview, you don’t necessarily want to tell them what your firm does. You’re not advertising. You’re promoting how great you are and all the things you do. You want to find out their level of preparation and interests. Are they in front of you knowing anything about your organization? What is their thought process? It may reveal their actual motivation to interview. A person might say, let’s say it’s a private security company. That’s a good example. “What does your firm do?” “They do private security.” “Do you know anything about us?” You take that a little bit further, “No, I don’t know anything about you. I don’t know if you patrol. I don’t know if you have alarms.” What that tells me is the person’s mind is saying, “I just want to get a job.” It’s not about career. The dominant motivation is I need a job. I need money. That tells me there’s not a lot of maturity or depth there because that’s very superficial. There’s no reason that a person will stay because if they get a dollar more, they’ll go somewhere else. There’s no interest in what the organization does.

You’re actually testing to see if they’ve researched it and at least looked on your website. At least looked at here’s what I’ve done. I’m thinking in reflection, how many interviews in my youth that I went to? The interviewer was telling me all about their company and what a great place it is to work for.

That’s their dominant representation. They’re trying to tell you the way they hope you think they are. Unfortunately, when you tell them how you think they are, they’re compensating for something. If you’re great, you don’t have to tell people. Everybody knows you’re great. You don’t have to remind people, “I have a light issue.”

In What Ways Do You Believe This Firm Is Successful?

Question number two is, “In what ways do you believe this firm is successful?”

That’s a loaded question. That’s a great profiling question. They’re going to say what they think success means to them. They may not know what you think and they can’t possibly guess what they think your firm needs to be successful.

I like your logo. I like the way your ad sounded. It seems that you’ve got a good reputation. Whatever they say but it’s more revealing about them.

It exposes their understanding of the industry. It reveals what they believe the interviewer wants. It offers an opportunity for them to give data. For example, in an interview, somebody might say, “I like the way that you’ve grown 10% every year for five years. I liked the way you broke the $100 million mark. I like the way you have offices in 22 states. I appreciate the innovation, the creativity, the online access.” That tells you how they’re thinking. If someone says, “I like the pay. You’re near my house. The hours are convenient.” That means it’s about their convenience and their needs, it’s not about the company’s needs. I see where they’re coming from. A lot of times after question two, I stopped asking questions because if one or two don’t work, I don’t keep going.

That’s like, “Thank you. We’ll let you know.”

Employer Interview Questions: Profiling assesses the mindset and view of a person.

I don’t say, “We’ll let you know.” I am not like, “We’ll put you off to later.” I say, “I don’t think this is a good match right now. In a year or two, you may want to reapply.” I don’t want to carry on a lie that I don’t want.

What Experiences And Education You Possess Are Related To The Work With Our Firm?

Question number three, “Describe the experiences and education you possess related to the work with our firm.”

This is a softball answer. We’re trying to say, “Please tell me why you can be here?” It may not be on the resume. This gives them a chance to come up with ideas and information that is not apparent. Also, this is what we call the good BS detector. If they show a lot of confidence and they have a lot of things. They’re so great and wonderful and everything they’ve done in their life since they were born with is for this job and everything that they intend to do is been about coming here, that’s probably not true. In fact, it’s very deprived and their deception level is very high. A lot of times, they don’t give our clients or employers the right answers. They’re trying to overwhelm you with, “I’m great and I’m wonderful. How could you say no?”

Authenticity is going to be lost. The truth is going to be lost in that overconfidence. Maybe they’re telling stories that are trying to create impact but are not really in alignment with truth. That makes a lot of sense.

The opposite is true. Some people cannot tell you how they prepared yourselves. For example, a lot of our agents that we hire one day go into law enforcement or work for the county in the court system or probation. We know that we can’t keep everybody for life. We want them to move to the next level. This is a good two or three-year training process to go there. The common question that law enforcement will ask when they’re interviewing you is, “Have you prepared yourself?” If you say, “I watched 911 on TV and I watched NCIS.” That’s not preparation, that’s entertaining. Do you shoot a gun? Do you run track? Do you lift weights? Do you take martial arts? Do you write reports? Do you work for a security firm? Do you work for a PI firm? Do you work for a law firm? What do you do that gives me an idea that you’re committed to this? Too little information is as bad as too much.

If Hired, What Do You Expect To Achieve One Year From Now?

Question number four is, “If hired, what do you expect to achieve one year from now?”

This is a little profiling trap. We want to hear the first words out of their mouth, even if it’s a joke. That’s what they’re thinking. The dominant motivation is what’s behind them being in front of you. What are they after? How does that affect their life? One example is we did a joint interview with a corporation where they’re going to hire a chief executive officer. The guy said, “What I’m expecting is to have lunch and go drinking every lunch and not come back after 2:00.” He went on to what he thought was the right answer. In reality, we called his previous employer and what he did was he’d go to lunch at 11:00, go drinking and not come back. That’s exactly what he did. That’s why he was there. One year from now, he wants it to be able to do that at any time or every day. If it was a joke, it was exactly true.

People’s words are congruent with what they’re thinking and what they’re going to do. They may allude to the pathology and the pathology is, this is how this person’s soul is suffering. They’re suffering from bad behavior. They’re connected to that bad behavior or that junky behavior. They’re going to keep doing the habit of that bad behavior or that junky behavior at the company’s expense.

It gives you a better idea of their mindset. Let’s say the person’s job is beyond their education or experiential age, are they going to get it in one year? That might be a little bit impossible. That’s the dominant representation. The representation is I want something. The question is, is it achievable? If it’s not achievable, they’re a little bit deceptive. Maybe not intentionally, but internally they’re in conflict. I want something I don’t deserve. I want something that I can’t get.

I don’t have the skill for it, I don’t have the persistence for it, I don’t have the time for it, but I do want this idealistic thing to shows up.

That might show up as pathology as anger towards the employer because I didn’t get what I want even though I don’t deserve it.

What Will We Find When We Do A Background Check On You?

It’s almost like what I’m willing to work for in the years’ time is my six-month review, my year review. If I do a good job, here are some things that I’d like to see. Question number five is, “We conduct thorough background screening. What will we find when we talk to your previous employers in the civil or criminal records?” You’re being very much upfront that we’re going to do a screening on you. Could you tell us what we’re going to find before we get there?

We ask a candidate, “What will we find when we do this?” We’re not saying if we do it. We say, “We’re going to do it, what will we find?” One way to draw them out is they’ll say, “My records are great. You’ll find that I did a good job. My employers will love me. They know I’m here. You’ll find out that when I moved, I gave notice.” Sometimes it’s very good. “One of my last employers promised to promote me. He said that I would be promotable. He promised to give me a raise, but never gave me a raise. I’ve done a great job for them.” They make themselves look really great. It’d be self-evident. Maybe some of that is true, but they probably left because they wanted something that they didn’t deserve. They had some interpersonal issues, but a lot of times they overcompensate. “I go to church a lot. You’ll find this, I’ll find that. There are a couple of things in my past that I’m not proud of, but I fixed it.” That’s overcompensation. Sometimes, other stories will show up that are not related, which means they’re diverting from answering. You want to try to be certain to get answers, not general statements like, “I’ve been pretty good throughout everything. I’m very proud or I’m not proud or I’m kind of proud.”

What Are Your Hobbies And Why Do You Like To Do Them?

It’s the balance between authenticity and truth-telling. A person could come back from a mistake or a problem by going like, “This did not work out so well. I want to let you know about it because this is what you’re going to find on the record.” If they are doing it with a little bit of humility, at least you’re going to take a look at them again. Question number six is, “What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time? Why do you like to do this?” It’s crossing over to the personal line, but it is giving some information about what they might be like as an employee.

For example, there’s a sports team where we interviewed some people. We were hoping that as a hobby, they like to train other people in this sport. They like to exercise. They like to work out. They like to go and observe other teams playing. That’s their dominant representation of what they’re trying to portray and their motivation. We could identify it because they’re going to tell us what they like to do and why. If they say, “I’m a very diligent administrator. I love math. I love science. I go to museums for hobbies. I coach children.” That’s in alignment. If they say, “It’s a hobby, I watch TV, I do nothing. I stay at home. I don’t really care.” That’s not in alignment with somebody whose passion is something other. You want to see if their passion is connected to their profession.

People's words are congruent with what they're thinking and what they're going to do. Click To Tweet

There are some extra skills that you can identify from the hobbies too, some extra benefits.

You want to see if their eyes light up like they were in the other questions, especially three and four. Are they excited to talk about their hobbies or are they not? They should be excited about their potential work as they are about their free time.

What Have Been Some Of Your Challenges And How Did You Handle Them?

Question number seven, “All environments have conflicts and issues. Describe two times that you faced with challenges. What do you overcome and how did you handle these challenges?” What does this question tell us?

There are different levels of conflict. If you hear, “Everywhere I’ve worked, my boss has always treated me poorly and I just leave.” The way they handle conflict or an issue is they go away and start over. Odds are that will happen with you. If they say, “I always have to get the legal department involved because they don’t pay me right or in my hobby, I found that there’s always somebody trying to stop me from something.” Are they talking about recognition, financial issues, interpersonal issues or structural issues? The content of their discussion is as important as how they handle it.

The content might be my need for respect wasn’t met, I withdrew from that. My need for fairness wasn’t met, I withdrew from that. My need for acknowledgment wasn’t met. There could be all these different needs that could be coming up that they’re not willing to work through or face. There might be a setup that they’re doing. They really need this transition to take place. That makes sense.

How do they handle the issue? What was the outcome? “I petitioned. I got the group behind me. I wrote letters. I went to the board. I bypassed my boss.” What is it that they did to resolve it? My guess is a lot of these issues persist. They’re not resolved. The individual carries them with them everywhere they go.

What Makes You Happy?

That could make a big difference. Overcoming is a big part. Can they work within a system or not? How about number eight?

This is a great question and I recommend you ask it earlier, but we put it to the end because it ties in everything. Eight and nine work together. If you feel fulfilled and satisfied, look at them carefully and see if they’re happy. Trying to see what their topic is. Are they relating to the people, income, promotion, recognition, service and problem-solving? Are they trying to overcome something? What makes them happy? “I love to get a raise because I deserve it. I was underpaid. I love to prove myself.” Some of those things are very positive and some are not.

What Makes You Frustrated Or Unfulfilled And What Are You Doing About It?

What’s nice about these vetting questions is it gets to the heart of the matter too. Instead of the functional part. I do a lot of job interviews too, but most of my stuff is roles and responsibilities. Does this skill match this? These sets of questions are looking a little bit deeper, which can be valuable because we want to be able to take a look at what’s going on in the internal part of their world. Question number nine is “Describe what makes you frustrated or unfulfilled. How do you feel when this happens? What are you going to do when it happens? What are you going to do about this?”

That’s a validation of question seven. We’re looking at conflict or issues. We’re asking it in a different way to see if they match. Is there any merchant cognitive thought or representation? What is it that exists in their mindset? Everyone feels unfulfilled or frustrated at some point. What is that and how do they do that? There’s a conflict management question again in a different way. It should be the opposite of what makes you feel fulfilled. In other words, if someone says, “I’m fulfilled by progress and by promotion. Why I’m frustrated? It is because of my hours.” That should be the opposite. “I’m frustrated when I deserve a promotion and I can’t get one.” It should be related to the previous question.

Many times, people get stuck with their frustrations and escalate them when they don’t need to be escalated. Asking questions about what you’ve heard and observed. It sounds like this is a good landing pad for us after these nine questions. Does this person’s past success and performance match with what the company needs? Are we answering a yes, no or maybe with this question? Sometimes, you have to take the maybe. You can’t take the yes, because the yes person is overqualified. Tell me about this knowing of resumes being false. I can see what items are you going to verify? What’s your tolerance for deception? What is something that you see that employers need to embrace about this one?

It’s easy for an employer to get a release to fax it to a previous company. It’s going to ask you a few questions. The questions should be, “This person claims they’ve worked in this role for you from this time to this time. Is that accurate? Yes or no?” That is very peripheral. “The person has suggested that these were their duties. Is that approximately accurate? Yes or no?” The big one is, “They claimed that they left for this reason. I know that for privacy you can’t exactly tell me, but is that reason true? Would you bring that person back even if that reason is true?” They accuse them, “That’s not exactly what they said. No, we don’t want them back.” Hopefully, an employer will say, “They embezzled $50,000. They’re under review for indictment. They’re an accountant with a proliferation of writing bad checks or false checks.” You want to go back and spot check. Let’s say that they’re in education, childcare, daycare or eldercare. You’ll want to see how they’ve handled previous clients and why did they change positions? What happened?

When you use the phrase, cognitive preferences, how do you define that?

Bill, that’s actually your field.

That’s why I might as well throw the softball in your direction.

Employer Interview Questions: Many times, people get stuck with their frustrations and escalate them when they don’t need to be escalated.

We’re looking here at their mindset. Are they a strategic viewer of the organization? Do they see a bigger picture? Are they very technical and want to be given work? Do they have interpersonal relationships with people and have emotional connections? What is the reason behind all this?

The alignment, is this an engineering type that is more logical and analytical? I want to match them with that job or the CTO that is going to handle that. Is it more of a strategic big-picture thinker? I want them in marketing. Is it the interpersonal person that I want in sales or the operations person that gets everything done? It’s getting aligned with the cognitive preferences that can make a big difference for an organization.

You want to ask yourself if the goals, their dominant motivation and their conflict approach, are good matches for growth and contribution and promotions. You never want to hire someone that will never go anywhere. A good employer, if someone’s renting property, what are the long-term likelihood for meeting the organization’s goals or the employer’s goals or the landlord’s goals? Will they be met with this person or this family?

One of the questions that I recommend is, “Is this person at my skill level so that I’m not coaching them or I can delegate to them? I need them to have the skill that is necessary or needed.” One of the things is I’ve got to have the person that has that motivation as well as that skillset that is something I’m going to delegate to.

You want to look at the variance between their dominant motivation and representation. This is where a lot of deception can be or they’re lying to themselves. Maybe you’re not going to blame them for that.

They’re boosting their self-worth. It’s another way to say, “Lying to yourself.”

They’re saying one thing and they actually do another. You want to look for that and see if that’s of relevance or not. Maybe it isn’t.

It’s time for verification. I guess we better do some stuff. We conduct a comprehensive misconduct search. We want to call the former employees, even if it’s not listed. We want to spot check the credentials and resumes. We want to provide this cognitive preference survey and compare them with established profiles. Follow up with an interview, have somebody else interview. Take note of those variances.

Sometimes, one interviewer will get one heart-dropping story, “This is amazing.” The other interviewer gets a completely different story about the same event. Probably, neither story is true. Sometimes comparing notes between the two is very valuable.

That is valuable. I can see it right away. How about asking the kid if they’re flexible? I like this one. It’s like, “From time to time, we may need to work over the weekend. Are you available for that?” Even though you might not have any work on the weekend, you are trying to test in their willingness to do whatever it takes.

We had one individual that was going to be hired for a key position that said, “Do not call me on weekends or after 5:00. I’m only committed to helping you all I can during these hours. After that, I’m not going to be of any help and do not bother me.” The role required constant access to people and information. A salaried role is whenever the company needs them to do something and that would discriminate that person from that role. They are not going to be willing to do extra things. The commitment level was to them, it was not to the organization.

It’s up to people to contact you. For more information about ways that you can get support to get greater protection. This is the thing that you’re up to as to invite people to check out your website.

Give us a call. This is very complex, so there may be some issues that we didn’t discuss or there are nuances we didn’t review. We’re happy to help anyone that we can that deserves it and wants it. We could go on this, but we don’t want to get into the details of every little thing. We gave our audience a great idea of where to start.

I appreciate, Jonathan, your time to share this with everybody. We know that information is power and good decisions start with great information. Thanks for your time and for contributing to all the people that are reading this piece of work. We’re looking forward to hearing from you the next time.

Thank you, Bill.

You’re welcome.

Ensuring Safety With Comprehensive Misconduct Research

Ensuring safety should never be taken for granted. No matter where you are, it pays to know who to trust, especially in this day and age where people are becoming smarter. In this episode, Jonathan Kraut and Bill Stierle discuss what comprehensive misconduct research is, and why we need it to make a safer workplace, home, or organization. Not all misconduct is recorded in our criminal databases or is considered criminal by our law. Doing background checks on people can be needed to avoid risks and fear within the group or community we are in. Listen to Jonathan and Bill talk more about comprehensive misconduct research, what it is, and how it can improve safety.

Listen to the podcast here:

Ensuring Safety With Comprehensive Misconduct Research

Understanding The Value Of A Comprehensive Background Check And How It Can Help Reduce Risk And From Making Fatal Choices Regarding Who To Trust

This is episode six about protecting yourself with a comprehensive misconduct report. Jonathan, you are a big man regarding distinctions and clarifications about different ways that investigations go. California PI license 21529, and we’re looking forward to learning a little bit more about a comprehensive misconduct report. Tell us a little bit about it.

There are different kinds of background checks. The simplest background check is called an instant search. When you go online and you look for a criminal record, which may or may not be there, it may not check every jurisdiction, but it might get something. The next kind of typical search is a skip trace. We are trying to identify someone’s name, Social, date of birth and addresses and maybe locate other names, Social, date of birth and addresses. That’s usually what in the industry you would consider a background check.

That gives us this introduction to a typical background check. Tell us the difference how this criminal record search using identifiers? How does that thing work?

An identifier is a name. Date of birth, a Social Security number in some states. Usually, it’s a date of birth. If somebody lies about their date of birth and you run their criminal record using a database, you will not find it. For example, it’s common for people with issues, we’ll put it that way, to lie about their date of birth by one day or one year. Unless you skip trace them and verify, you won’t catch that. You’ll be running the wrong date of birth and therefore there’s no record. Date of birth is the main identifier. Some states use Social Security numbers, not many but some do. Sometimes you can verify the date of birth with a Social, like the last four too because there could be somebody with the same name and the same date of birth. There could be 2 or 3 people. It could be somebody the same as you in a different place with the same identifier.

You’ve got to be able to search the appropriateness and have a little more thoroughness. It sounds like some investigative organizations don’t do that level of detail.

The licensed agencies usually do. Go online yourself and run an instant search. You’re going to take for granted that the person who gave you information is accurate and you’re going to take for granted that the database contains relevant information. Remember, 80% of the current and relevant criminal information case records are not in instant databases. Unless you’re in every court in the United States, you cannot possibly know instantly if there’s a case.

Why misconduct search? What does that give us that can help us out a little bit?

Even if somebody searches a comprehensive criminal search, meaning every criminal record in every appropriate county and state and FBI and federal databases, for example, sex offenders and all those things., you’re going to miss a lot of information that you think would be criminal. Misconduct search includes behavior that is not classified as criminal and my audience will be surprised to find out what that is.

How about domestic issues and domestic violence, how do those play into it? 

Often, domestic issues and domestic violence and domestic abuse, even though you would think it would be criminal is sometimes classified and filed as civil or family. I don’t know why that is. The belief is if you harm a loved one, it’s not a crime. Especially in our work in California, we’ll find a lot of it is the order of protection and violations of harassment orders and so forth in the civil record, not the criminal record.

That also goes to follow through with elder abuse and child abuse and certain restraining orders and protection. Those are all in this misconduct search piece.

Elder abuse and child abuse, if you were only relying on criminal records, we’ll be missing a lot of the cases are complaints filed. For example, if there’s a restraining order against somebody or an order of protection against somebody, it’s not going to show up in the criminal case record. Commonly, it will be showing up in a civil case or a domestic case. There are different classifications that the courts use, criminal and civil, family law, probate and sometimes other cases are separated from each other. The point is misconduct, which you would consider criminal typically will be found in a criminal record search. Some regarding family members, the elderly and children are not.

Most losses by employers are not from shoplifting, but are from internal and employee theft. Click To Tweet

The system needs a little bit of work to pull the database and get some clean lines of distinction from state-to-state, from county-to-county. There are still some struggles there.

Not only struggles, California for example, but the counties also do not share information. You cannot go to one place in California and find out all the criminal records, civil records, harassment and family cases in California in one place. Not only that, you can’t find them in one county. You’ve got to look in different directories in that same county. To do a thorough search, you’ve got to check each of those relevant types of records in every county and in every state and at the federal level. There are other sex offenders by state, sex offenders nationally, Bureau of Prison records. It gets pretty hairy.

Jonathan, it sounds like we talk a lot about infrastructure. This is very much a part of the infrastructure update that needs to take place in the criminal justice system. Am I guessing that right? 

You are but it won’t happen in our lifetime. They’ve been working on this for many years. I’ve assisted some counties like Los Angeles, Mira Copa and others in trying to organize these things. It’s horrendous. Getting through budgetary considerations, people don’t understand it’s a tough process. We’re not going to see it.

The political piece and the financial piece are going to keep PIs an essential item to find the data that’s necessary.

It’s difficult to navigate this if you’re unskilled and have no background in it. I can’t imagine. We work with hundreds of counties every day. We know these counties and even then, we have trouble and we have to double-check. The court, you checked every data. It’s a lot of work.

It’s a lot of hands-on stuff. It sounds like incidents of civil harassment and stalking also can fall through the cracks as well as drug rehab and diversion or probation stuff slipped through. 

With stalking, most agencies tend not to want to prosecute anyone for stalking. They tend to blame the victim, “You’re too pretty. You’re too smart, it’s your fault. Why don’t you tell them to go away?” Without understanding that a stalker is interested in rejection, they’re not interested in affection. They’re trying to get revenge on somebody by being rejected and they’re working for revenge. The individual has to file a suit against them or that record may not be in a criminal system. It may be in a civil system. You’ve got to check that system for any misconduct relating to stalking or annoying or making phone calls, stuff like that.

That’s a tough go. I’m thinking from a mental health perspective. That’s a part of my thing that it is important to get this misconduct piece and capture people or to identify people that are struggling in a mental health way. See if we can guide them and keep them away from people in that vulnerable place.

A lot of these records, because they’re divided by type in local courts, if you do a criminal search, you’re missing significant information that probably could change the outcome of hiring someone or not hiring them. Being related or having some relationship with them or even having a neighbor with issues and you don’t find anything criminal and you think, “It must be me. They don’t have an issue.” They may have it, but it may not reside in the criminal system an issue or a record that you could identify.

That’s a big difference. What if a person, an employee or somebody, fails to undertake a comprehensive misconduct search? What are some of the elements here? We have a few of them here that we can carry over.

Let’s say that you are a landowner and you own an apartment building, and in that apartment building you have children. I would recommend doing a misconduct search, not only to find out if the person is a sex offender and abuses children. They don’t want them to move in next door to the kids. If they were ordered by the court to stay away, if they have civil harassment issues, if they’ve harassed people, if they’ve been ordered to attend some classes, that may not show up in the criminal system. You don’t want as an employer to have an unsafe workplace. Let’s say that there are civil harassment charges by a company or by an individual against someone for the misconduct at the workplace. That’s not going to show up in the criminal system. The person who brings someone into a setting, like if you’re dating someone and you bring them into your family, if you’re renting an apartment, if you’re hiring someone to work with others, you need to look at all the things relevant to their character and their conduct.

Comprehensive Misconduct Research: 80% of the current and relevant criminal information case records are not in the instant databases.

There’s a lot of protection that’s necessary. A lot of times we scare people and people get scared about this thing. It’s the value regarding safety and if we do some gentle safety pieces would have to be as scared. We’re verifying what is happening with the different individuals in our world.

Let’s say for example, you leave a loaded gun in daycare on a table. That’s the same to me as hiring a caregiver or a babysitter or a daycare person that has been convicted of and being sued for child endangerment and sexual abuse. It’s the same thing. It’s not hard to call up someone like us and say, “Can you do a comprehensive misconduct search?” It costs a little bit more. What it does is removes the liability from the person who brought that other person into their setting, removes their liability by doing a thorough search. How would you like to do an unthorough search and something goes wrong? Something that the court and the public and a common sense person would say should be done and you don’t do it. There’s no reason to be scared more be satisfied. You pay a little more and get something that gives you certainty and gives the workplace or your family or building safety.

I could see that the liability piece is important. If you ignore the signs of unwanted character traits, if you’re going to increase the likelihood of lawsuits that are coming in your direction, the increased likelihood of internal theft embezzlement by doing a comprehensive misconduct search can make a big difference because there’s a protection element.

There’s also a preventive element. I don’t know how many DAs have told me they only embezzled $50,000. Take it to a civil court. It’s an internal matter. We’ve supported clients with gathering information for the police because $50,000 or $100,000 isn’t enough to go after them. However, if you steal a bicycle on the front porch, they’ll go after you but if you embezzle and write checks to yourself or use credit cards or collect cash in a non-authorized way, law enforcement tends not to care. You want to prevent that from even happening. Most losses by employers are not from shoplifting, but are from internal and employee theft.

This is that whole idea. If you steal a candy bar, it’s possibly a third strike. Whereas if you are an internal employee and you lift $10,000, it’s a white-collar crime and who really cares?

The law enforcement says it’s not a crime. It’s a civil matter. You hired them, you brought them into your environment, go after them. It’s not our problem. You don’t get any cooperation from them lately. Maybe in some places you do here and there. We were even told by the FBI that if it wasn’t $1 million, we’re not looking at it. It’s not enough to worry about, not to encourage people. If you get a PI agency, they can dig this out. They can put the case together for the feds to take it because often they’ll want you to do the work and then they’ll take it. The best way to go about it is to keep these people away from hurting you and the people around you.

It’s a big difference. What should be included in a comprehensive misconduct search? There’s a couple of different things.

The first step is to do a broad skip trace, which isn’t simply verifying their name, date of birth and Social. It’s all the names, dates of birth, Socials they’ve used anywhere that they’ve lived that you can track. That gives you a broader scope. When we do a search, we look for every date of birth that we can find. If they lie about one name, one date or one day or one year, we can find it.

The second one sounds like a live search by an agent, not a computer printout.

A computer is not going to be able to discern whether someone changed their names or their date of birth slightly. A computer’s not going to be able to verify with the court that a case belongs to them. It’s only going to do a printout and you cannot bring the computer to court. You can’t have them testify on your behalf. While it’s a good starting point, it’s by no means thorough and doesn’t put together the little pieces that are missing.

It seems like there’s a level of thoroughness that’s needed that you almost have to search every local court, county, state a state of relevance.

You’ve got to check everywhere that you know they’ve been and if you don’t look everywhere they’ve been, how would you know what’s there? Sometimes people move county-to-county or state-to-state because they know that people usually order a search of the current state that they’re in. If they’re from out of state, most agencies that do the hiring or rent to new tenants or have caregivers only checked the county or state that they’re in.

The insurance companies are happy to offer a discount when risk is lower because to them everything is all about risk. Click To Tweet

It’s like you need to look under. There are these different rocks you need to look under. If you look under each one of them, you’ll see if there’s anything underneath there. If there’s nothing underneath there, you’re good, but it’s almost like you know where the rocks are that you need to turn.

Let’s say there are twenty rocks. If you do an instant data search, you’ve turned over one. What about the other nineteen? Since we do that all day, we have a staff that does thorough criminal background checks and thorough comprehensive misconduct searches all day. We know where to look. We know what codes are, what penal sections are, what civil sections are. We know what that means. We’re looking for criminal records, warrants, new cases that may not show up in a database. Most new cases aren’t in databases and civil records, lawsuits, pending lawsuits, things on the horizon that may be a normal person wouldn’t know what to look for or where to look for it. We’re looking in family and domestic records, not criminal. We have criminal records, civil records, family records, domestic records and all those searches are part of a comprehensive misconduct search.

It’s the money that’s well spent as what rocks to look under and how do you know you’re done looking at that rock.

You can look at a database as well. We use lots of databases. Sometimes we find things that make it easier. If we have a case number, a date file, we can pull the case more quickly. In an instant database search itself is an issue because it gives the illusion that something was done. If it’s not thorough then it has no value. It’s like saying, “Please X-ray my hands so I know my body as well.” You need to X-ray the whole body to know the whole body as well.

What is it an average cost here for a comprehensive misconduct search? What does it usually take?

We usually estimate between $125 and $175. This is the current price and it’s subject to change. It’s probably not going to go down. It will probably go up. That’s a normal range that you’d expect to pay.

That makes a lot of sense. I noticed it says per person. Does that mean that you and your agents are spending a good amount of time looking under these rocks and that simple fee gets you there?

We have to pay databases and access fees and review. We have all our agents reviewed by another agent what we call the lead agent to make sure it was done correctly. We spot-check, we check the records, we check the documents to make sure they did everything and to some of our friends out there, avoid paying for this search by name. Let’s say someone has three married names and their maiden name and then you’ve got four names and that can be $500, $600. It should be one price to look at everything for a flat rate for a person. How many names there are, that’s where to go.

How long does it usually take?

It usually takes three days. The reason is let’s say we get the request in the afternoon on Monday. It’s got to be searched by computer first and skip trace. My tip is half-hour to get to it and then another twenty minutes to go through it. It’s going to go out to different counties. Some counties can only be accessed in person. We send it to our network of agents around the country. Those agents will go to that court and look under those directories and databases or sometimes give the list to the clerk and then come back the next day and get the list back from the clerk and then report to us then we write a report. Three days is the right time to do a thorough search.

I’m noticing here that it also says some insurance carriers will lower premiums. That means it’s almost like money found. You’re going to lower the premium, you’ll definitely get your $1 at a $25, $75 back.

Carriers have an actuarial table that denotes risk and if you prevent to the best of your ability improper people from having contact with assets or with others, it goes down. If any of you out there are friends who are interested in doing a comprehensive search and your insurance company does not give you a discount, call me and I will make sure they do something for you. I will prove to them that the risk for loss and injury is much lower because you’re weeding out people that normally would not be weeded out.

Comprehensive Misconduct Research: The risk for loss and injury is much lower when you do a comprehensive search because you’re weeding out people that normally would not be weeded out.

The insurance company reading that would make a big difference from somebody that has the experience that you do.

The insurance companies are happy to offer a discount when risk is lower because to them it’s about risk. If we can lower the risk of injury or theft or some misconduct, it’s better for them as well.

There’s a big benefit to this. These are different ways you can even promote yourself as somebody that is in this safe environment.

For example, we have an investigator verified logo, which is trademark and our clients are allowed to use that on their information, on their publicity, on their letterhead and other places and saying, “We have an outside PI agency license doing a thorough investigation.” That gives you confidence that an independent licensed organization has checked these out, especially for caregivers, for childcare, for organizations handling money and credit cards. It’s huge to have that. You can get more clients and get more business if you can demonstrate that you’re doing everything right.

Client confidence goes up. Our ability to make it a safer environment for employees goes up. That’s a big piece to it. It is cost-effective in the long-term. It’s more of a long-term play for sure. 

One example is you can do an instant search for some criminal records. Maybe 20% of the records that exist are in this database for $15. Some rideshare companies do this for $5. They’re not looking. There are some people who are international terrorists who are on the no-fly list who are sexual predators because they didn’t search county by county, state by state or the federal system in every district, then they’re liable being sued because they’re unwilling to spend the money. It’d be sure that the person doesn’t have anything that would prevent them from being at work. My message to these rideshare companies is to call me.

There’s the ownership that can have some comfort in knowing that they’re covered because they’ve been screened. 

How would you like that to run an elder care business with 40 people on your staff? All you’ve done is the state live scan, which checks criminal records in that one state. They’ve been convicted of elder abuse in other States, if they’ve been sued by individuals because of misconduct or mishandling or mistreating the elderly or the impaired, children. You don’t want them under your employment.

For somebody reading this blog that says they want to engage a private investigation firm before screening. What are some of the questions?

First, does the firm perform a comprehensive misconduct search? If they don’t know what that is, move on. If they say, “We do a full criminal record and we check every criminal record.” That’s half of it. What about the other half? If they don’t know what that is, go on to the next person or next agency. The next question would be how many years back do you go for search? Though most states believe that seven years is adequate, you’ve got to go back 10 or 12 to find out if anything’s in that seven-year scope because the scope begins the seven years at the end of the sentence. They were convicted of a crime, they were in prison for five years. That 5-year-period might end up within the seven. Also, if they don’t go back far enough, something relevant, maybe they’re not even looking. Let’s say we have an eldercare or childcare or credit card access, we want to go back fifteen years at least to go back and be sure there’s nothing that might be relevant.

The turnaround time also could be helpful too. If it’s over three days, then they’re not maybe present to what needs to be done.

There are contractors for the federal government. I used to work in that area where their background checks take three months. I don’t know why, unless they wait three months to start. Maybe three days shy of three months. We’d done three days. Sometimes it takes longer because you’ve got to order the file. It’s in the basement of some accounting clerk. Some clerk’s office they’ve got to go pick it up, bring it out, an agent has to go get it and make a copy or read it through. It might take a little longer, but usually three days is enough. They should be licensed. The PI firm has to have a state license to operate and to assess character. If they can’t assess character, there’s no reason to ask them to assess character.

You can obviously get more clients and get more business if you can demonstrate that you're doing everything right. Click To Tweet

By asking this question, you could also add in there maybe, is the report free to the person that is doing it? It might be a good question to screen the organization.

If they don’t make a free report available to the person who’s the subject of the search, you’re not following what we call the Fair Credit Reporting Act. They’re not complying with that Federal and State Act that subordinate to that. A copy has to be made available. A copy of the report is not a database report. It reports on a letterhead by an agency licensed to do this and it should be signed or identifiable back to an individual that prepared the report.

How about the letterhead stuff? Is the report signed or on the letterhead? They’re putting their name behind it sounds like?

There’s an agency that can be addressed. We have insurance to cover us if we do something dumb, but luckily we haven’t had that. After many years, I’m happy to say we’re looking forward to a much better. We’re going to do a thorough job. We may not be perfect. We have many ways to recheck ourselves. We’re eliminating the chance of error to some infinitesimal number instead of maybe an 80% error if you do an instant search. It’s worth the money and it should be on letterhead. It should be signed by somebody.

You’ve stressed many times on these shows about having a licensed PI agency. Why are these different that they have a clear view of what you know is in your CMS? Tell us a little bit about why this is valuable.

A CMS is what we call a Comprehensive Misconduct Search, and before anyone that employs an agency, you want to be clear to them what it is you’re looking for. If you say, “I want to no criminal record information only and I want it in one county only and I don’t want to go back before seven years.” It will be cheaper and protect that company or that person making requests. You want to be clear that if you want to look for misconduct wherever you can find it, then that’s what you want. PI firms aren’t always licensed. Sometimes they call themselves detective agencies or data search agencies or whatever. That’s not going to hold up in court.

The key fact is there needs to be a waiver signed by the subject, the person that they’re searching is on, they have to know that it’s being done. Unless an attorney asks you or it’s for a criminal case or civil case where there’s an issue, a case number going, somebody has to sign that document that says, “Go ahead and check on me.” You need to give them a free copy of the report if they want it. Usually people who don’t have anything don’t want it. There’s nothing. How do you pay? Sometimes they say, “Sign up and do 45 searches in a month for $10. Who’s going to go to court for you?” Is it on the letterhead? It’s not. You want to pay either on a volume scale or by an individual scale, but don’t do subscriptions and monthly payments.

That usually means that they’re interested in the subscription fee, not in paying for what they do or may not really matter. You want to make sure that you allocate three days. If you can’t wait to hire someone in three days, you’ve got to hire them now or rent to them now, start three days early and then you’d be fine. You’ve got to give that time for the proper search to be conducted and then have a point of contact at your organization and their organization. The same two people are talking to each other and are up to date on what’s going on. PI firms should have one person that deals with that one client and makes life much easier. Anyone picking up the file will not know the history of what’s going on. Only the person that has experience and knowledge and some compassion for that client will be able to handle it well.

Those are all important values. The point of contact and it’s significant. Tell us more about how people can get connected to you and your company so they could access your services.

Our firm is Net Check Investigations and our website is There’s a list of other shows and blogs on there for your review. Anyone that has a good question like, “What do I do?” That’s a good question. Please give me a call, myself or my lead agent or my office manager can direct you or help you. If you need an attorney or not sure what to do next, we’re happy to offer our ideas. We’re not saying that the case always goes the way you want it to go. The evidence will help it go the way it should go. Being preventative in mindset before you go out the front door, check the weather, before you get in your car make sure your tires are there. Little simple things that you would normally do. What we’re saying is prescreen thoroughly and comprehensively. We recommend a comprehensive misconduct search so that you’re sure that the right person or at least the person that you bring in to an environment has nothing that would hurt others or nothing that you could use to detect their misconduct in the past.

Jonathan, this has been informative and the information here has been valuable. I feel a great sense of certainty that you and your team make a bang-up job on this thing and for people to at least call and have an exploratory discussion with you would make a big difference. That they can get their minds used to what the things they’re looking for and how you could provide the service can make a big difference. 

We know that information is power and good decisions start with great information. Our role is to provide that information and support and we want everyone to be successful and safe and happy.

Comprehensive Misconduct Research: Do a comprehensive misconduct search so that you’re sure that the person that you bring in to an environment has nothing that would hurt others.

Thank you, Jonathan. We’ll see you at the next episode. 

Thanks, Bill.

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Five Ways A P.I. Firm Will Help You Win Your Case

Jonathan Kraut, together with Bill Stierle, discusses the importance of private investigation firms in court. When we are faced with a civil, family, criminal, or domestic case, besides having an attorney, a P.I. Firm can help us gain more perspective and additional wisdom and information needed to win the case. Listen to this podcast episode as Jonathan and Bill expound on five ways a private investigation firm can help us win cases.

Listen to the podcast here:

Five Ways A P.I. Firm Will Help You Win Your Case

How A Private Investigations Firm Can Assist You In Winning A Civil, Family, Criminal, Or Domestic Case

What we’re going to be talking about are the five ways a PI firm will help you win your case. Jonathan, you’ve been in the investigation business for a long time, with the California Private Investigators license 21529. Tell us a little bit about the five ways a PR firm will help you win your case.

I think you mean PI firm. It could be the same thing. The PI firm is Private Investigations. That’s what it means. In some realms, it could mean something else. A PR firm is Public Relations and a lot of times, the information that a PI firm gathers is relevant to your case or your reputation. With the stuff going on in the press, you can get the truth out. It changes the whole narrative.

I appreciate that correction because if we’re not engaged in gathering good information, it can get out in the wrong way. It’s important to get good facts and the good information that is needed in order to create an impact.

I watch a lot of news and cable. A lot of times, they make statements that are as though they’re facts and there’s no independent verification that they’re true. They’ll say, “This happened.” I don’t know that it happened. They told me and they showed me a picture. As an investigator, I don’t believe them until a person who was there or some document or some information says that what the news agency claims are true. I’m skeptical about it. They start saying, “As we all know, this is the fact and therefore.” I don’t know if it’s a fact. I don’t want to buy into a narrative that may not be truthful or a narrative that may not be leading down the right course. I want to be fair, equitable and independently verifiable.

I appreciate this whole thing because a lot of times in my communication world, it’s the adjustments of, “Here’s the person’s perspective and then here’s the perception.” That gets hijacked into a proportionality. It’s bigger than the reality or lesser than the reality. We could watch what happens in the media a lot. There’s an escalation or a reduction of something. That’s not fully true. How do private investigators assist the legal team? How do they provide this measurable advantage?

Building A Support Team

We’re going to talk about five ways that a PI firm can help your case. First, you need to have an attorney or have one as a consultant. If you don’t have one yet, you should get one soon. Maybe talk to a PI first to find out what kind of attorney you need. A lot of attorneys specialize and some take on work that they’re not ready to handle. The first advantage is the private investigations firm is part of your legal team. In the courtroom, you might see a table at the front with the defendant or the prosecution sitting there with an attorney or two people. In my case, sometimes I don’t sit at the table. I sit in a chair behind the front table. I write out little cards during the case. They don’t remember everything. They’re busy with their case. They forget some detail or question. You ask a witness, we will provide ideas and directions based on the information we have for the legal team not only during the trial but in preparation of the case. How should we proceed? Do you think this person will testify? That’s crucial because the legal team, including a lot of people, expert witnesses, the legal secretary, high firm or they may have an agent, we’re all part of the same process.

It’s building the support around it. It sounds like the private investigator is somebody that is bringing another level of experience, knowledge, wisdom to the environment.

The private investigator is somebody who brings another level of experience, knowledge, and wisdom to the cases. Click To Tweet

For example, I’ve been through hundreds of cases and having that experience, maybe with cases that are exactly similar to the same kind of case, my experience is going to be different. My approach or my strategy may be different because of historical experience with that similar issue. The legal team may have a completely different viewpoint. For viewpoints, you have a better strategy and the better approach can be divided.

What a great way to expand the team’s knowledge and wisdom, as well as to be able to adjust the messaging that’s needed inside the court.

It’s not only in the courtroom. For example, “Who should we subpoena? Who would make a great witness?” Digging up things like, “Did you know this person was married to or divorced from or has a child with? Did you know this person used to work?” It’s things that the legal team may not pick up on. It’s not that we’re that bright. A lot of PIs are bright and maybe if I’m included in one, I’ll be happy, but we’re diligent and we’re focused. We’re organized and we keep track of all this stuff. Little details that a prosecutor or a defense attorney would miss.

That perspective, it’s an additional experience that is needed. What’s better than to have somebody else around that and have different experiences so that your team has a better advantage and communication.

One role that we play is that we are a sounding board. The legal team or even the client at times can rehearse or make their case. We would act as the devil’s advocate and say, “Convince me.” What is it that will take to convince a jury or a judge by the other side for a fair resolution? We’ll act as a sounding board in a way and we’re not that partial. We’re trying to be fair and equitable. We gather information, we provide a view. Ultimately, the attorneys decide what to do. We’ll give them our best version of what we think would happen. They don’t have to agree. It’s not up to us to be mad at them or to direct them. We have our role and they have their roles. Being a sounding board and pretending we don’t know anything about the case, we’d sometimes help resolve how to proceed.

That’s interesting, the information that’s unknown. That could be huge.

Even in a trial or a hearing, we’ll sit there with a little 3×5 cards and write out all this stuff. Remember, we’ve interviewed all the witnesses, read all the documents, analyzed financial statements, paperwork, criminal records, civil records or previous lawsuits. We’ve done all that. We remember what they said. We remember the demeanor and the character of the individual and how they would be perceived. Remember that we’re interviewing people that are pertinent to the case that the attorneys have never seen in person or have interviewed. We’re keeping all of that in our heads and on paper and contributing the best that we can.

The persistence that a private investigator brings can make a big difference to a case. Click To Tweet

I never thought about the second level of support that a private investigator could bring into the courtroom and providing just-in-time critical information and handing the note to the attorney at the right moment.

In the courtroom, you can’t use a phone. We can’t text each other as to what’s going on. We have to stand up literally, lean forward, hand a card, “Here you go.” A lot of times, the attorneys appreciate it because it keeps them on track. If it’s in negotiation, then it keeps everybody on track.

Locating Witnesses And Serving Subpoenas

What’s number two? It says locate witnesses and serve subpoenas. Tell us a little bit more about that.

There are four options that you can use to find witnesses that are hard to find. For example, if the sheriff’s department wants to serve a subpoena, they’ll knock on the door on three different occasions and they wait about 30 seconds. If nobody answers the door, they go away. If a process server who’s licensed by the state that they’re in does that, they may try five times. They may go to someone’s work and someone’s home, but they don’t. They’re not empowered to do a lot more. They don’t go into the parking lot. They don’t find the car. They don’t wait in the car. They basically go the address and knock on the door. If nobody answers it, they go away. We’ve performed what’s called a skip trace. We have access to confidential data and that confidential data will give us information not readily available to the client that we were serving. For example, we can find relatives’ names, their dates of birth, addresses, country, people that are neighbors. We can run a search of all the neighbors within 300 feet of the home or businesses. We have other ways of finding things. We can get their phone numbers and names of the owners or maybe what vehicles they drive. There’s a lot of information that the public cannot find. That gives us a great advantage.

I can see that having the ability to find people and find where this witness is and to serve the subpoena when it needs to be done can be a big difference.

We have a rule, a little saying that PIs generally do and it says, “Mama always knows or the mother will know where that person is.” Sometimes we can’t. They won’t open the door. We can’t find them. We’ll call the parent or baby mama or baby daddy, whoever it’s going to be. We’ll say, “We’re trying to give these documents. We’re not able to but they’re not in trouble. They’re only a witness. If you can arrange that for us, it would be great. Otherwise, there’ll be a warrant for their arrest or their appearance and they’ll have to be dragged in. All we want to do is talk to them first and see if they’re relevant to the case. If they are relevant, maybe we could have them fill out an affidavit. Maybe they don’t have to go in. I can make it easy. If they need a ride, we’ll take them there.” We’ll ask neighbors. We expand our network to be broad and hopefully efficient.

I’d never thought about that. The persistence that a private investigator brings can make a big difference.

Winning WIth Private Investigations: Be careful of buying into a narrative that may not be truthful or may not be leading down the right course. Be fair, equitable, and independently verifiable.

I’d say of the thousands of subpoenas my firm has issued, there probably have been a handful, maybe 5 or 6 that we could not find and nobody knew where they were. We’re relentless. We’ll stake out a home at night on the weekend. We’ll look for the lights going on. We’ll look at the power consumption. We’ll try to get a phone bill, whatever we can get. We’ll try to see who has utility bills. We might call the office. We’ll do a google search or a social media search. We might send an email. Let’s say the guy that we’re trying to find is a car collector. We’ll build a fake profile that we’re also a car collector. We’ll send him a communication. We’ll figure it out. People are cooperative if they only knew that they’re not in trouble. They’re just a witness to a case. Maybe they know something that they can direct us to somebody else and we don’t know. Usually, people are afraid for no reason.

I can see that. It’s getting the information that’s needed for the case.

Our goal is to do an interview. We’ll write some notes. If it’s appropriate, we’ll serve a subpoena. Maybe we already have one and our purpose is to serve a subpoena. We’ll fill out the proof of service form, either we file it with the court or the attorney will have it available at the hearing. If it’s small claims, the person that filed the case has a copy or the respondent will have a copy that we fill out. Serving a subpoena is huge because if you don’t have witnesses, then you don’t have independent information.

The private investigator will even help the witness get to court. They’ll pick them up. Have you done that?

A lot of times. I’ll say, “I don’t want to go, but I’ll come to get you or one of my agents will come to get you.” We pick them up. That way, we get them there to the court. We’ll take them to lunch if there’s a recess. We’ll also reassure them and inform them as to what their role would be, what kind of questions would be asked, how should they approach the proceeding, what this might mean for them if there’s anything. Sometimes, there’s someone that’s undocumented. We’ll have our driver be from that same country, whatever country if we can or similar language to reassure them they’re only a witness. They’re not being prosecuted or detained. In the court, we make it clear that this person’s a witness and is not to be detained. The judge will say, “I’m not allowing anyone to come in.” We don’t provide that information to anybody. All our interest is in getting information or witnesses to the court that’s relevant to the case.

Gathering And Evaluating Evidence

It sounds like it naturally rolls into number three, which is gathering and evaluating pieces of evidence. You’re going to assist in securing the witness, but also any information that’s coming in that direction.

Usually, we have a rule of thumb. We try to interview everybody at three different times. The first time is to get a feel for what they know and don’t know and if it is irrelevant. After we’ve interviewed everybody, which might be 3, 30 or 90 people, then we’d go back and ask questions again. A lot of times, the answers from the different people don’t match. The third time, we’ll go back again after we jog their memory. Now, we know what happened and we want to find out who is credible and who is not. If they’re deceiving us, why are they deceiving us? Are they protecting anybody? We dig in. That’s why investigations take a while. You’ve got to pause all of that at once. You’ve got to give time for people to think about it and to react.

If you want to win your case, you have to do it right. Click To Tweet

We’ll provide measurements. We’ll take pictures, measure skid marks and estimate the speed of a vehicle. We can review documents like statements, employment records, DD 214, which is a military discharge. There’s a code in the DD 214 that tells you the nature of the discharge. If somebody will look at that and say, “They were discharged at this rank,” there are little codes in there that tell us that they could have been thrown out for a reason or busted by rank or demoted. We can use financial analysts called a Certified Financial Examiner or CFE. They do an independent audit of what the audit is saying. That could be an expert witness that we can provide or we can review the other side’s expert or we can do a simple audit before the case to determine if there are any assets to go after or how much might occur. There are a lot of ways that we can gather and evaluate information.

I’m looking at all these different lists of things, the provided photos, videos, measurements, analysis, analyzing data, police reports, statements. They may use a Certified Financial Examiner to conduct interviews that may be three times per witness. There’s a pretty good list of things. They help rule out, in and out the theories based on the facts, comparative timelines and statements. Our audiences that are reading the blog can come back to the video and look at this piece because it is rich with a checklist of the different ways that a private investigator gathers and evaluates the evidence.

One reason we’re doing this show is so that people know that there’s a lot more than following someone around to see if they’re cheating. We don’t do that a lot here and there but usually, we’re interviewing potential witnesses, evaluating data, providing a summary for the attorneys or for the client. We’re comparing timelines. The timeline is probably one of the most valuable tools that we provide. Let’s say we had a case, a woman claimed that she went to her ex-boyfriend’s house and knocked on the door. He came out, beat her up and she went home. Two days later, she called the police. We went to trial, it’s a criminal trial. We did criminal defense. She said she went to his house at 1:00.

At 1:00, there was a football game with two famous teams. I won’t say who and one of the guys watching the game was a police detective. I don’t know him. He was present during the game. He said that nobody knocked on the door. He would remember if anyone knocked on the door because no one came to the door. They were watching the game together. The detective was a neighbor of our client. She changed her story and they said, “It was the wrong day. It’s another day.” The timeline was off.

The other day, he happened to be out of town at a company conference. The boy had his airline tickets, hotel reservation and a selfie of him and his workers in front of the hotel. The timeline blew the case out. The other thing is that she never was struck or harmed by this guy. She put makeup on her face and took a selfie when she went to the police department the day after the claim. She had no bruises or injuries to her face the day before they were there. How is that possible? We evaluated the film, her photos and by changing some items in the data of the film, we could see that it was a paint and makeup and not consistent with a real injury. The timeline ended the case barely. The guy was dismissed. I’m not sure if the prosecution went after her for filing a false police report. The timeline and all that evidence is an example of all the things that go into the work that we do.

You might even have to get on the stand. You may be called upon as an expert witness, becoming an asset to change the outcome of the case because of this integral role that you’re playing inside the environment. You may be included for the testimony and the opinions regarding any element of the case.

Acting As An Expert Witness

There are two roles that we can play besides gathering and providing information. One role is that we might act as an expert witness. For example, there was a case where someone made a claim that they saw someone point a gun. Where were you standing? How far away was the window? What was covering the window? Was it day or night? We went and measured it. We determined that at that distance, which is hundreds of feet at night with the light bulb on, if I was holding a piano or a TV in front of the window, you could not see it. We testified as an expert that we went at that time. We looked at that distance. We couldn’t even see a silhouette. It was far away. How could they possibly see it? That was a witness testimonial because we reenacted it. We as an expert determined when he could not see it. I had three different people stand there in case my eyes are red. We all did not see what the person claimed. We could not see what the person claims. It is far away.

The attorneys usually have the voice, but the private investigators give them the words to say. Click To Tweet

You can capture all kinds of things: abusive behavior, domestic violence, misconduct, character flaws, the whole thing. You can capture that in. There’s a part as an expert witness because you’re used to doing that.

In domestic violence and domestic abuse, for example, I’ve handled personally hundreds, maybe thousands of cases. I’ve interviewed thousands of witnesses or victims or abusers easily. The patterns and their behavior processes are similar. We can be called in as an expert witness for domestic violence cases. I happened to write a book on it. We can make our judgment as an expert witness providing an uninformed opinion. We’re not necessarily providing an interpretation of facts. We’re taking the information we have and we can be considered a credible source for the judgment of what might’ve happened and why did it happen.


The reports, the analysis, all that stuff can go into building this essential case because the ultimate outcome is to provide information. This is number five on your list, the attorney is needed in the course. With this number five, if you’re providing information to the attorneys that are needed in the course, while the attorneys can cost up to $600 an hour to gather the information, the big thing is cost-saving by getting a private investigator on your team.

There are several reasons. One is we do this for a living so we’re thorough and we’re patient. We’re not in a hurry. We’re trying to get everything right. We’re trying to rule on things and rule out things like, “This could have happened. This could not have happened.” The attorney cannot call themselves as a witness. They cannot be cross-examined. An outside person, which is an investigator or their agent would be cross-examined by both sides. We’re a lot cheaper. We are practiced in this process. We’re licensed specifically to do this kind of work.

I imagine many clients are coming into this environment and it is a foreign experience for them to have an expert that has been there in and out of court. This is what the judge says. These are the different pacings of things. This is the reflection to outline the case. It can be essential that the attorney can play off the private investigator to build that in.

If you want to win your case, you have to do it right. If you’re trying to save money and you’re paying attorneys to do the work that investigators should do, you’re spending 3 to 4 times as much. There are limitations to what an attorney can do, to be honest. We like the attorney to go with us sometimes to hear what the witness would say. Even though we’re writing our notes and we’re making a recording or documentation of what happened and if the attorney was present, he can ask questions. That’s fine. We can be asked to provide information in the court where the attorney can’t voluntarily put it out without ruining their role in the case.

What are the elements that you have written down? The information on there is a PI could be used to establish a foundation before the testimony. It’s almost like you’re laying out the concrete that the case is built on so that they can put the walls up and the roof up. They’re able to build it from the foundation up. A testimony of the private investigator to the attorney in front of the judge can make a big difference.

Winning WIth Private Investigations: If you’re trying to win a case and save money by paying attorneys to do the work that investigators should do, you’re spending three to four times as much.

Bill, that’s what a layperson like you would say, but the foundation is a legal definition. The foundation is you cannot take pictures and show them to the court. The foundation is asking the person who took the pictures. The attorney would say, “Did you take pictures? What are these pictures?” Then they can be entered as an exhibit or a piece of evidence. You cannot put them in as evidence. You have to have what’s called build a foundation. If there’s an objection for lack of foundation, they’re saying these are documented.

It’s a true thing, isn’t it? This is true and you’re under oath kind of foundation.

Yes, “Where did it come from and who provided it?” That’s what foundation means. You can’t say, “These are the documents that I got. Where’s your subpoena? Who fills out the form? Can I call and verify that these are accurate? Can I bring them in to cross-examine that? What do these mean?” All of these were part of the legal process.

“Was it attained legally or not? Who is this witness? Are you the person that talked to them and point to them in the room?”

The evidence in this country is very strict. The reason is because of fairness. We want to have the evidence introduced as fair, untainted and independently verifiable.

In reviewing this, why does a private investigator or a PI firm make a difference? In short, they provide crucial evidence. It’s cheaper. They gather information faster, testify as an expert, provide and testify regarding admissible evidence. This foundation, you could tell a story about this. You make the dig that’s necessary for the people and the evidence. As a private investigator, you have special access to information that many people don’t have.

An analogy that we often use in discourse is the attorneys usually have a great voice, but we give them the words of what does it say. They can’t go in blind and win a case based on arguing against what the other person or the other side has to say. This is common. The government may prosecute someone without a deep review there. The prosecutor may have information or interpretation of information that is inaccurate. Police reports are written by people who write tickets. We tend not to value a lot of that information is accurate. Some are good, some are not really good. We’re the ones that will go in and dig for, “Who were the witnesses? Who is there? What kind of money was being made? Was there a gun? Was there a knife? Was there somebody working who claimed not to work for child support?” Whatever the issue is, we’re going to dig for that way beyond the level of law enforcement or a public defender.

If we’re providing good insight, then this is what we need to do. If I was looking for somebody, then I need to ask some important questions like, “Does this firm issue subpoenas? Does this firm have access to confidential information? Does the firm’s staff fully support your case? Is the firm licensed in your state?” These are good crucial questions to ask before someone hires a person. How long has the firm been in business? Are they new at this? How many similar cases did you already take? Is there any story that you can see that maybe you’ve gotten hired after somebody did a crappy job and you had to come in and clean it up?

I would say 30% of our cases, if not more. How many times we’ve come in for half the money? We’ve got to everything, clean it up. I don’t know why some investigators are in business, but that’s not my decision. That’s up to them. I don’t fault the client for not knowing. One reason we’re making this is for people to make a better choice. That’s why we’re here. If subpoenas are not issued by a firm, if they can’t access confidential information, and when we’re fully staffed to handle it, there should be one or two agents in the office doing background checks, screening, pulling court records, going online. There should also be one or two people in the field. You don’t want to have a one-man show or one-woman show. The court needed simultaneously. You can’t provide it if you have one person in some simple cases.

The third question is the firm staff to support your case fully. If there’s a one-person, it might not be enough to support the case that you’re doing.

For example, we have a good number of people, but there are a few cases that we’re over our heads. We don’t have 200 people here. It’s a huge case. It might take a few years. We’re probably not going to take that one. Not because we don’t want the money, but we wouldn’t earn it. We won’t earn money. It’s not the right situation.

We’re only using a licensed PI agency that can define specific support. The big thing for the client to go after is to establish clear objectives, even call you to have that reflection to even work and has sign authorization. Make sure the attorney is fine with it. I’m sure there are some examples there and allocate time and funds for that as well as they provide a thoughtful approach with integrity and demonstrates trust and support. Those are the summary of things that you have on your slide that you outlined. It sounds like people can check in with you for this.

Sometimes, we’ll be asked to do work and we’ll always say, “What is it? What are the objectives that we’re trying to determine?” An example is a woman who would say, “I want to prove that my husband is cheating.” We can’t prove that they’re cheating if they’re not cheating. We only can prove they’re cheating if they’re cheating. We can’t always prove it unless we’re on them all the time. If they don’t have a budget for us to be on them all the time, or at least reasonable hours like weekends or evenings or when they’re out, if they don’t have the resources available, we may not meet that objective. We could get lucky and maybe not. There are a few cases where the law firm that was representing a potential client said, “We don’t need a PI. We’re just going to wing it. We’re going to go into court, save yourself some money.” Unfortunately, a lot of those cases don’t come out well because the attorneys were not open to help and support information that would have changed the case. That’s the client’s decision.

For more information about ways that Net Check can provide support, I am inviting you to check out the website, I’m guessing that you welcome people to contact your staff.

We ask our friends and those concerned about what to do next to call. We’d like to give clear direction whether we’re used or not. It’s not relevant. Let’s first see what the approach might be and what the goals would be. We only operate in California and we do background screening nationwide, but surveillance work, we only are allowed to do it locally. We have a network of investigators that can access every court in every county. If the records needed in any state, we can get them to do our network. If their agents needed in some other state, we have a network where we have PIs and PI firms all over the US. We’re happy to help answer questions and allow the right outcome to come about.

I recommend our audience to give you a call and check out your website and reach out. Jonathan, thank you so much for your time. This has been fascinating and looking forward to the next episode where you’re able to get this information out to support your clients and support people that are needing that next level of support. It’s wonderful to be here with you.

Thank you, Bill.


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