Information Sharing, Ethical Obligations, and Boundaries

Investigations Done Right!

 

At Morse Investigation Services, it is rare that anyone contacts our office when things are going great for them. Whether you’ve realized that your spouse is cheating on you, you’ve been the victim of a hit and run, or your friend or family member is missing, the situations prospective client’s find themselves in often instills a sense of hopelessness or anxiety. Our goal, therefore, is for us to find ways to bring peace of mind and solutions to the client’s problems. 

Cases are emotionally complex beasts that take their toll on a client, and by hiring a private investigator, the investigator can help shoulder some of that burden while being able to keep a clear mind about the task ahead as they lack the direct emotional connection to the situation that the client possesses. 

So when a client is in distress, and is looking for answers, just how much information is too much? 

Scandal

What our custom digital case management system we have used, allows for consistent communication of our work product and those results that are obtained by the investigator, as part of our work-product, and ultimately passed along to the client and or their attorney. The efficiency of how the information is shared has made leaps and bounds beyond the daily or weekly phone call to client’s to give them an update on where their case is at. 

But lets say you’re working an adultery case. As an investigator you take all the necessary steps to get the evidence needed. The result is a crystal clear video of a subject and their paramour in a hotel parking lot as they kiss, grope and embrace each other, and you can even see the moment when the paramour mouths the words “I love you.”

Do you immediately share this with the client? While the client is paying you for a work product that is planned to inevitably share with them, there can be consequences, sometimes dire, if this type of information is not carefully evaluated before doing so. 

Video like the one described above, if shown to the client, could result in an emotional breakdown, and depending on the circumstances of the case, result in a loss of leverage in a divorce settlement should the client lash out at the subject. For example, maybe all the evidence needed for the client is there, but the subject can be strong armed into a more favorable settlement if his mistress is also married and he wants things to go quietly. If everything comes out because of the client’s understandable, yet volatile reaction to the video, that leverage is gone.  Or maybe even worse the client decides to respond to the scene or confront the adulterer, resulting in a confrontation, bodily injury, or worse.

Because of these extremely emotionally complex and often dire situations that our investigator’s regularly work with, it’s important to always keep in mind how the results of the evidence collected may impact a client and their case. For Example, many marriages are potentially coming to an end, and leaving an entire life behind is not a small task for anyone to process.  It is important to rely on our experience in the courts to know when and how critical or inflammatory information is shared. 

With these things in mind, we have an obligation to not surprise client’s with the various grotesqueries collected in a case, and if the investigator believes it to be in the client’s best interest, recommend directly passing along the evidence to the client’s attorney in order to spare the client the emotional turmoil.  Morse Investigation Services also implements a 48 hour hold policy on new evidence, if we believe that the evidence collected with adversely affect the client, and often recommend a face to face meeting to discuss the case findings in person, so the client doesn’t have to face these things alone. 

For those of you reading this, whether it be a PI or a prospective client, we hope you find guidance and comfort in the above blogposts.  There is so much more to client management and care than simply taking a picture.  We understand the emotions involved and try to gently guide our clients through some of the worse moments of their lives, as if they are our only client.  We believe this practice is one of the major reasons we are Virginia’s Top Rated Private Investigation Agency, and have been for over 20 years.  

 

Blog Post Written By: M. Johnson, Case Manager and J. Morse, Founder