Do you know the three different types of testimony you might be called upon to give as a private investigator?
You know me as Mr. Been-There-Done-That and that is really key this week because I am not a lawyer, I’m not giving legal advice. I’m just sharing with you as a Private Investigator who’s been called upon to testify in these three different ways and to give you a brief explanation about what they are.
The three type of testimony I’m teaching about here are interrogatories, depositions and actual testimony in a courtroom.
Interrogatories are written answers to written questions.
This is part of a very common part of the discovery process in civil cases.
So when you get this list of questions, and frequently it’ll be several pages, maybe even a packet of questions, don’t treat it lightly, treat it with the magnitude as if you were testifying in court. Part of that is making sure your attorney knows about it!
These interrogatories will come to you usually from a law firm, usually the opposing council. So the fact that they aren’t coming directly from the court, don’t let that fool you. They’re still very important, they carry a lot of weight.
The second type of testimony, you might have to give as a private investigator is in a deposition.
Depositions frequently take place in a law office. If it’s a big law firm they are going to try to impress you with big tables and fancy conference rooms. If they’re in a high rise, they like the fact that you’ve got to go through the lobby and come up the elevator to the 30th floor. Really, they’re just trying to intimidate you. If they can get you nervous or feel like they are the big, powerful and all-knowing attorneys then they’re hoping you make a mistake they can exploit.
If you’re case is solid then really they’re just going to try to make you look foolish. It’s part of “the game”. Don’t worry about it. In Depositions, you’ll be right across the table from opposing council, but an attorney for your side will be there as well.
Depositions are frequently recorded and often video recorded as well. There will be a stenographer they also.
Council for your side can object to questions. Treat this as if you’re testifying in court. Dress professionally, speak professional. Don’t worry, you’re going to prepare for this.
Finally, keep in mind, this is under oath. There are penalties of perjury if you lie during a deposition.
3. Testimony in Court
The third form of testimony is what you classically think of as testifying in court. Its the type of thing you see on TV because it makes for good drama. Its good visuals.
This may be during a trial or maybe during a pretrial hearing.
Courtroom testimony is not always in front of a jury. Most pretrial hearings just have a judge trying to decide a specific point before the actual trial. But again, you are in a courtroom, you come up to the stand, you take the oath, you are under oath for this. You cannot lie. You cannot perjure yourself.
Do not freak out about any of these forms of testifying if you’re called to do them.
I will give you a huge hint that you can today right now put into place that will help you immensely. When you have to go testify, especially in a deposition or in a courtroom, it’s very helpful if you can go in with nothing to hide.
If you’ve done your investigation in a way that you have nothing to hide, you’re going to do well. You’re not going to be nervous about it. However… If you go in with this nagging question in the back of your head, “I hope they don’t ask me about this. I hope they don’t ask me about this. I hope they don’t ask me about this.”, well, then you’ve got a problem.
That probably means you did something that’s a little dicey in or in a “gray area”. Maybe it’s ethically a problem. I certainly hope it’s not legally a problem! So the point is start today conducting all your investigations legally and (of course!) ethically. Remember what you do will come to the light of day eventually.
The End of Your Career
One final point… I touched on it already, but I will tell you why it is vitally important that you cannot perjure yourself. You cannot lie under oath.
Obviously, it’s wrong. Obviously, it’s illegal. Yes, it’s a crime. But, here’s a key thing…
If you lie under oath, if you get caught in a lie, even if they decide not to pursue perjury charges, no matter what, if you lie under oath, your career is over.
No one will hire you after that. It’s no good to have an investigator who will collect evidence that cannot be presented in court!
And word gets around. Our world is a small world! If attorneys find out that you lied, “pushed the bounds of the envelope” on a previous case and you got called out for it, opposing council will bring that up every single time you have to testify!
Do you understand? There’s no reason to hire you because you’re not credible on the witness stand. No matter how great the evidence is you collect, they will always be able to question it’s veracity and put a black mark on your word. Lying under oath is not worth it. Your career is over. That includes interrogatories, depositions and courtroom testimony.
If you like this information, then don’t miss out on my free special report If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. If not, you can get it right here…Do you know the three different types of testimony you might be called upon to give as a private investigator?
If you like this information, then don’t miss out on my free special report If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. If not, you can get it right here…
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.