Court Admissible Evidence: Private Investigation

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The job of a private investigator is to gather evidence and proof, recover missing persons or those in hiding, and conduct surveillance. Evidence is vital to court cases and trials and can help a case finally be solved. However, not all evidence is primarily admissible in court. Court admissible evidence is that which a court of law accepts as valid and can help establish a point being made by a party as valid. There are multiple types of court-admissible evidence. Let’s walk you through it.

Documentary evidence

This is evidence in hard and physical form. Documentary evidence may consist of photographs, video footage, activity logs, written statements, court records, etc. This evidence can be presented to a judge or jury for examination and analysis.

Testimonial Evidence

Testimonies are written or verbal statements given under oath. In written form, it is a signed document with a statement justifying or recounting events. In verbal form, it is a recounting of events inside a courtroom in presence of a judge and a jury.

Physical evidence

Physical evidence refers to an object, or image or video of an object. Physical evidence holds immense importance when it comes to criminal trials, where physical evidence could refer to a weapon, fingerprints, or place of crime like a car.

Original Evidence

This may refer to an item or testimony like an ‘out of court statement.’ In a legal trial, this may be used to determine the mental health status of a person.

There are also conditions to court-admissible evidence being gathered. First and foremost, this evidence should be gathered legally. In a scenario like this, the private investigator and the party who has hired them should be able to prove that the evidence was gathered ethically, legally, and through the right channels. Since private investigators don’t have access to data more than a normal private member of the public, the evidence they gather is not dependent on how much they find. However, their methods, training, and skills are what help them achieve the evidence they have set out to look for. 

There are also several ways to gather evidence. All this must be done ethically and legally, with respecting the right to privacy of everyone being put under surveillance. A few legitimate ways to gather evidence are:

Surveillance

Surveillance is the most common way to find evidence. This method is used by law enforcement agencies and intelligence services looking to catch criminals red-handed or gather information on their movement. There are multiple ways that a private investigator can now conduct surveillance. To track down movements of an individual, or finding out where their location is, Mobile surveillance can be used. Transportation can be done via foot or a vehicle. To conduct surveillance on a house where suspected illegal activities are being carried out, or spouses living together during divorce proceedings, or illegal subletting, static surveillance can be used. Surveillance can also be done by monitoring an individual’s social media accounts and their activities online that are available to the public eye. Public government records can also be accessed because they are open to the public, and do not have to be accessed legally.

Private investigators do not have any government vested power in their roles. They are normal members of the public and can only access information like a normal citizen. However, their training and experience can help them look at normal public information differently and their analytical skills can help them gather evidence from information that may seem useless to a normal person.Private investigation companies are not properly regulated by the government, but their actions and methods can be put under strict scrutiny if they go out of the way to conduct unethical and unlawful means to obtain information. For example, access to a person’s personal phone records or computer logs is illegal unless done by a government authority. If a private investigation company somehow gets access to this information, this evidence will be inadmissible in court and could land the private investigator and the private investigation company in legal troubles themselves. Court admissible evidence may be the Gold Standard in evidence gathering, but it’s only valid if done lawfully and ethically.

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