The practical advice I have for you this week is…
Use a fresh media card for every case you have. If you’re doing a worker’s compensation fraud case and your camera takes an SD card, use a fresh media card.
I know the reality is sometimes the budget’s tight. I know the temptation. The temptation is to say, “I’ve got this card, I barely used any of it on my last surveillance. I want to use it again.”
But there are two reasons to conduct your “case management” this way…
First of all, it makes your life a lot easier! When you have a single SD card and the only thing on it is video or information about this surveillance, it can go right in the case file. And this is very, very nice to have; so much easier for you.
Secondly, imagine, your case is going to court, your evidence gets subpoenaed. The other side is not going to want the edited piece of video that you brought to your client.
Your client may only be interested in 45 seconds of video or two minutes of video, where the subject lifts something heavy for a worker’s comp case or where he meets a woman in case of the cheating domestic case. Your client doesn’t want to have to watch through six hours of video you collected waiting for the subject to do something. So you edit that down. That’s great for your client, but…
If a case goes to court the defense attorney is going to want everything!
One of the things opposing council is looking for is that the edited video that you’re showing is an accurate representation of what was actually going on.
That previous sentence is HUGE! Don’t miss it!
If you’ve worked a worker’s compensation case and you’ve got an hour of this person struggling up and down stairs but the only video you show in the edited version is them taking out the thrash, the defense attorney is going to want to know about that.
This comes back to a core thing we talked about all the time… Integrity. Do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing.
You can’t withhold evidence. Your job is to collect evidence, find the truth wherever it leads you. You really have no control over that.
So… you don’t want to have multiple cases on the same piece of media because when the defense attorney does subpoena the whole SD card, you don’t want someone’s infidelity case on there as well!
You don’t want two or three other client cases on there. I know the temptation. The temptation is to save a little bit of money, but doing the right thing means a new card for each surveillance case.
At the very least, make sure that you’re preserving the video that you took for each case appropriately.
If you refuse to buy another card, make sure you completely wipe out all data on the used card. Even if you have to re-format the card. (And with advancing technology… you better be darn sure even that’s enough!)
You don’t want some poor client who’s just trying to find out if his wife’s cheating on him to be dragged in to some worker’s compensation case. It could cost him his marriage if she found out he was hiring a private investigator.
Spend a few extra bucks, do it the right way.
Larry Kaye, P.I.
P.S. – For COMPLETE surveillance training, get The Investigator’s Ultimate Guide to Surveillance by yours truly, Larry Kaye, P.I. right here!