Lawyers, Investigators and the Law in NH

Lawyers are trained to litigate and negotiate. Investigators are trained to investigate.

An article by Lisa Stansky noted: “… Investigators often are more successful than lawyers at gathering information from people…”

The New Hampshire Supreme Court also recognized the value of a professional investigation in a child custody matter.

“The evidence offered regarding the plaintiff’s failure to properly supervise and attend to the children was overwhelming…a private investigator testified that when he observed the plaintiff on ten different evenings, the plaintiff left the children alone overnight on six occasions while she visited a male friend…Furthermore, the investigator’s report indicated that following the first day of the hearing, the plaintiff continued her pattern of leaving the children alone overnight.”

There are a few laws that directly apply to investigators. Most, but not all, investigators are aware of these laws, the attorney should be too.

RSA 106-f: 4

Any investigation, for a fee, requires a license in New Hampshire. The statute governing these activities is RSA 106-f: 4. It is the activity that is regulated, not the title of the provider. There are various entities performing various investigations in New Hampshire, without license. The license means, among other qualifications, that a $50,000.00 bond is on file with the State. No license = no bond= no public protection. A license is required to perform the below services:

“business of collecting for a fee, hire or reward information on the identity, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, transactions, reputation or character of any person, or otherwise doing investigative work for a private rather than a public interest.” 106-F: 4 II

INVESTIGATOR’S DUTY

The New Hampshire Supreme Court stated that investigators can be held liable for the actions of their clients, even if the action is a crime.

“Thus, if a private investigator or information broker’s (hereinafter “investigator” collectively) disclosure of information to a client creates a foreseeable risk of criminal misconduct against the third person whose information was disclosed, the investigator owes a duty to exercise reasonable care not to subject the third person to an unreasonable risk of harm. In determining whether the risk of criminal misconduct is foreseeable to an investigator, we examine two risks of information disclosure implicated by this case: stalking and identity theft.”

TELEPHONE TOLL RECORDS

Recently an out-of-State investigator was ordered to forfeit over $110, 00.00 in profit she made after obtaining telephone toll records by pretext. For a longtime this was a gray area. Recent Federal Legislation makes this illegal, but there are still services offering to do it, they just leave out the pretext part in their advertising.

SKIPTRACING AND RESEARCH

The GLB (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) is one law that governs activities in accessing certain data sources which are used in doing backgrounds or skip tracing for law firms. A person must have a permissible purpose under the GBL to access data, like credit headers. It cannot be resold to the public.

The GLB also restricts pretexting to obtain financial information, but it does leave room for work what involves recovering funds from deadbeat dads.

DMV

Accessing DMV information is harder here than in other States. Federal Law, the Driver Privacy Protection Act, allows for access “in anticipation of litigation.” Sadly we did not follow that and RSA 260:14 is far more restrictive. Not only do you need a docket number but a letter of explanation describing what you need and why you need it. Intrusive, but it is the law.

SURVEILLANCE V. STALKING

Clandestine Surveillance is allowed under RSA 106-f. Note the statutory term “clandestine.” Theoretically, stalking should not be an issue, but it became one in the Miller V. Blackden decision. Surveillance is an exception to the stalking law, if done properly. It is not stalking provided the activity is “necessary to accomplish a legitimate purpose independent of making contact with the targeted person.” (633: 3-a)

Clearly a clandestine surveillance is protected here and this is what the Legislature intended. It is an ‘in your face’, not so clandestine, surveillance that is prohibited under certain circumstances. The burden is on the investigator to prove he or she has a lawful purpose. The attorney must be aware of this when assigning surveillance to an investigator.

The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc. (WWW.NHLI.NET) is working with the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to make sure this is adhered to and training becomes a part of the new licensing scheme for investigators.

INTERVIEWS

An investigator can contact a victim of domestic violence, if working for an attorney, if the investigator:

1. Identifies himself or herself as a representative of the defendant.
2. Acknowledges the existence of the protective order.
3. Informs the plaintiff that he or she has no obligation to speak.
4. Terminates contact with the plaintiff if the plaintiff expresses an unwillingness to talk.
5. Ensures that any personal contact with the plaintiff occurs outside of the defendant’s presence, unless the court has modified the protective order to permit such contact.” (633: 3-a).

Make sure your investigator is aware of this.

CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS

This was applied to investigators in the Remsburg decision, specifically in the area of “any unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce within this state.” (RSA 358-a)

Accordingly, we conclude that an investigator who obtains a person’s work address by means of pretextual phone calling, and then sells the information, may be liable for damages under RSA chapter 358-A to the person deceived.

PRIVACY

Investigators can serve the public and still maintain people’s privacy when asked to locate former friends, army buddies, roommates and estranged family members. After obtaining the identifiers from the client, the investigator tries to locate the subject. If successful, he or she contacts that subject and asks they contact the client, stating the reason, and not revealing the person’s whereabouts to the client.

EAVESDROPPING

This is a simple issue. New Hampshire is a two-party state, thus no conversation in person or by phone can be recorded without consent of all parties. A verbal waiver should be a part of every taped interview an investigator does for you.

ABANDONDED PROPERTY SEARCHES

This is a form of data mining, done with abandoned property, also knows as Dumpster Diving. As with many other things, New Hampshire treats this differently. In State V Goss, the Supreme Court addressed the intent of the owner in protecting his trash from a search, citing that seizing it without a warrant was a Constitutional violation.

While this does not affect licensed investigators, directly, it does, indirectly, if the concept were carried over to the private sector. While trash may be off the property and abandoned, it is the intent of the owner it be destroyed, not data mined.

FCRA

Pre-employment screening is addressed here. The investigator must have a waiver from the employee, on hand and all inquiries must follow FCRA guidelines. These guidelines set other standards and procedures for the employer to follow with regarding to adverse actions and other employment related decisions.

COLLATERAL RECOVERY

It looks like any tow service can retrieve a vehicle for a bank. (RSA 367-A: 7 VIII)

(4) whereby a seller or holder of the contract, or other person acting on his behalf, is authorized to enter the buyer’s premises unlawfully, or to commit any breach of the peace in the repossession of a motor vehicle; (5) whereby the buyer waives any right of action against the seller or holder of the contract, or other person acting on his behalf, for any illegal act committed in the collection of payments under the contract or in the repossession of the motor vehicle;

They do have to notify the police within hours after doing it. (RSA262: 3-A) However to do an investigation to find the collateral, if it is not at the location specificed, does require a license. RSA 106-F: 4

ETHICS

Ethical conduct is not addressed in the current licensing scheme, thus no adverse action can be taken for unethical/unprofessional conduct. The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc. (WWW.NHLI.NET) is trying to change that with HB 776 which will add testing to obtain a license, compulsory Continuing Education to renew it, and a definition of ethical conduct to give the Regulatory Board and Agency (Department of Safety) some tools for enforcement; better public protection through higher standards.

REASON FOR THE ARTICLE

In order for the attorney/investigator relationship to prosper both parties need to be aware of the laws governing the investigate activity. I have been an investigator for many years and a member of The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc during that time. I am its Past President. Our members are kept aware of these laws, by way of our publication, our website, and our training. Sadly I still run into non-members, licensed investigators, who ask questions like: “the GLB… what’s that?” The Miller v Blackden decision is another scenario that can be avoided by knowing the law.

FIND AN INVESTIGATOR

In addition to the educational opportunities available, members of The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc agree, in writing, to adhere to its Code of Professional conduct. Membership in the Association is the Hallmark of the Professional Investigator in New Hampshire.

3 Tips to Find the Best Lawyer

Do you have trouble finding a legal representative for your case? Is your case a complex and unique case where no ordinary lawyer can handle? Does your case require special handling and fragile proceedings? If you do, the you might need a lawyer who is best for your case!

A lawyers job is to legally represent you in the court of law and also to protect you to the maximum legal law possible. If a lawyer does not represent you up to their best legal abilities, then that lawyer will be examined by the legal jurisdiction of your state for mus-representation and other legal consequences. But no lawyer is equal, and it may mean the difference between a ruling that isn’t in your favour!

Here are 3 tips to find the best lawyer!

1. The internet

The internet is one of the best sources to get the best lawyer for you. The reason why the internet is the best place to get the best legal representation for you is because you can search for specific lawyers who specialises in specific law areas. For instance, if you are in the proceeding for a workers compensation claim, then it is best to go to search on the internet for a workers compensation lawyer who specialises in this area. They have the experience and the legal expertise to get the best compensation for you!

2. Find lawyers who have won a large percentage of cases

It is best to find lawyers who have won a majority of their cases. This is because you will then have a higher chance of winning because they have won a majority of their cases. People who have won a large percentage of their cases means that they know how to find all the loopholes in the law. The more loopholes the lawyer knows, the better you can win your case!

3. Find a lawyer who can communicate with you in easy to understand English

You will be surprised to find that the majority of lawyers out there have very poor English or communication skills. To win a case, a lawyer must have excellent communication skills so they can give the best evidence and argument for your case! A simple way to know if they have good communication skill is if they can explain a legal document in easy to understand English and they don’t use legal or law language that you don’t understand!

Illegal Immigration Law – All About Crime in 2009

One of the biggest issues with our immigration laws is that often the criminal records of the countries people are coming from are so inaccurate or incomplete, we really have no way of knowing if they are legitimate or not. Thus, we let people into the country we shouldn’t. Of course that is only half of the dilemma and perhaps a small part of the real problem. You see, if a person has a criminal record and realizes that they will be denied citizenship in the USA, then they might simply choose to change their name and sneak in; using the illegal immigration method.

This is unfortunate because we really do not know who they are or if they are a criminal until they commit their first crime against a US Citizen’s property or person. Once they do, and “if” we catch them, they are finger printed and deported, of course, the United States has so much abundance and sneaking over the border to partake in it so simple that they come right back again and will most likely commit another crime.

Even if we punish these people by putting them in jail, the crimes that are committed such as theft, battery, assault, or even murder have already caused great harm to our nation and cost us in more police, jails, courts, and economic hardships. So, something must be done, the problem is that nothing is being done. You see, illegal immigration law is much about crime, so since it is 2009, isn’t it about time; that we fixed this crisis?

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The Role of Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal injury lawyers are people who offer legal representation to victims who sustained injury either physically or mentally in an accident caused by an act of carelessness of someone else. They are also known as accident lawyer or accident attorney. Accident attorney have special knowledge in a type of law called tort law which deals with civil misconducts and damages caused to someone’s assets, social standing and personal rights. It is necessary to know what to do at the appropriate time when accidents occur. In this article, a cursory look will be taken at the role of accident lawyers when you, your family members, colleagues are involved in an accident.

Personal injury lawyers help you to make claims when you sustained serious injuries during an accident. However, when employing an accident attorney, you must be sure that such a person is capable of handling your case effectively. One way to find out is by asking how many cases the lawyer has handled successfully. Accident lawyers must be vast when it comes to the application of tort laws so that they do not lose the case.

Personal injury lawyers assist people who sustained accidents to get claims for treatment especially in a case where there is an argument about who is to be blame in the accident and if the individuals involved in the accident sustained serious injuries. Though sometimes, when an accident happens like that, major internal injuries may not be evident until victims make repeated visits to their doctors. This is where follow up visits is required when victims sustained injuries.

People who sustained injuries in a car that is not insured or is under-insured, there will be a need to hire accident lawyers as fast as possible after the incident. This is because people who own such cars many not want to pay and there may be little time available to institute legal action against such drivers. Also, some insurance policies also made it mandatory for victims who sustained injuries in an uninsured vehicle to come to an agreeable point within 60 days after the accident. In this case, the injured person will need to employ the service of an accident attorney to help trash the case before the expired date.

However, accident victims will need to ask two important questions before hiring personal injury lawyers. The first one is to know whether they will be happy employing the services of an accident attorney or not. The second one is the settlement of the lawyer employed to handle the case. Most personal injury lawyers charge up to 25% of the settlement collected.

In conclusion, it is good to employ the services of personal injury lawyers when you sustained serious injuries in the course of an accident. This will enable you to claim back the money spent on medical treatments and car repairs where appropriate. There are many accident lawyers in Dallas who can offer exceptional services in the event of an accident.