There are various features that signify the differences between civil and criminal cases. Criminal cases are between the accused and the state, whereas civil proceedings are between two parties. These parties can be individuals or companies, or a person and government. Generally regulatory agencies enforce their regulations through a civil process and not a criminal process.
Difference Between Civil & Criminal Law
Civil cases constitute a private dispute between individual or organizations and involve one entity complaint against another for failure to uphold their legal duty. The accusatory party will usually ask for the completion of the duty and compensation for harm done. Much of civil process involves contractual agreements. A criminal case is brought against a person on behalf of the people. There is an element of an act prohibited by law that results in loss or endangerment. It is an act versus a failure to act common to civil law.
Types of Civil Investigation Cases
There are many types of civil investigations:
• Personal injury investigations confirm the injury occurred, how it occurred to determine fault and potential compensations.
• Worker’s compensation is primarily concerned with the prevention and the uncovering of insurance fraud.
• Missing persons investigations are used to uncover information on the safety and whereabouts of a missing person.
• Child custody and abuse investigations. Mistreatment and acts of negligence involving children.
• Marital investigation involves domestic abuse to cheating spouses.
Surveillance & Private Investigator Tools of the Trade
Investigative tools available to the investigator surveillance, background checks, forensic investigation, asset searches, witness interviews and other methods dictated by any unique features of the case. Surveillance is the close observation of a person, place or object. The purpose is to document the interactions and whereabouts of the subject. This includes technical surveillance and the use of video, photography or electronic surveillance being phone usage, emails, social media. Extreme circumstances wiretapping. Physical observation also sometimes called a ‘rolling surveillance’ if the subject is mobile. Includes stakeouts, undercover and usually multiple investigators. Can be pedestrian or vehicular. Interviews are conducted to build up background information, essentially a profiling activity to ascertain information that will aid in the surveillance. Overt surveillance includes known resources like mall security cameras. Covert by nature is more circumspect being undetected. Surveillance is kind of the ‘Swiss Army Knife” of investigative techniques as it can be used to prevent criminal activity, obtain evidence for civil or criminal proceedings, documents an individual’s movement or location, obtains further information for investigative leads and can be used in court.
Background checks are used to establish a baseline activity for the individual under consideration. It is a basic investigative techniques and is used to provide information for analysis and clues to point the direction of the investigation. Most backgrounds checks are made by addressing various databases online, but with the understanding this info is often incomplete or inaccurate. Not all records are available online, the data may not be accurate or up to date, all records will need to be validated and does not include checking references, past employees, degrees, and other sources not online.
Forensic investigation uses scientific methods and rigorous procedures to interpret physical evidence and to collect evidence with a suitable methodology for submission into court. There are many subspecialties involved. Tools and marks, accounting and or auditing, electronic forensics for computers and cell phones, crime scene, dentistry for identification, toxicology and many more.
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Asset searches reveals assets available to the subject, can prove spending beyond reported income, fraudulent activities and important in civil cases the ability to pay judgments. Evidence collected can include financial statements (checks, bank statements, etc.), electronic activity including computers and cell phones activity (emails, call lists, texts, GPS and others). Interviews of friends, family and colleagues. Business and public records, and physical evidence. All the preceding constitutes civil investigation and the techniques used.
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