Monthly Archives: February 2016

Revenge Photos

download (4)Because of technology being what it is, new crimes emerge from time to time, and one of the new crimes that hasn’t been completely absorbed into the various criminal justice systems around the world is that of the revenge photo.

This is the misuse of nude or provocative pictures taken and exchanged between two people in a loving relationship. After the relationships splits up, one partner uses these photos to humiliate the other one.

For example, a lady that was known as Sandra found out one day that her ex-boyfriend had viciously posted nude photos of her on Facebook! The photos went viral and were shared across many social media platforms. Once the cat’s out of the bag in social media, you can’t control how many places the photo can show up, and this can go on indefinitely.

In some areas, there are laws against posting this kind of photo even if nude or pornographic photos are allowed on a particular platform, because the “model” did not consent to having the pictures displayed publicly. In one case, the laws were so lax that the woman who was victimized actually had her chest copyrighted so she could use copyright laws to force the removal of nude pictures of herself.

Some social platforms, such as Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram, have policies against this kind of revenge, but even when they do, their customer service may not be as attentive as they could be. Therefore, people can send email after email requesting the photos be removed without hearing any response.

In some areas of the world, there are laws on the books that could be used to protect the victims even if there are no laws specifically targeting revenge photos. For example, in parts of the US, there are civil laws against coercion, stalking, and harassment, so it may be possible to use the civil courts to remove the photos even though there has been no crime under current law. Many other places are passing new legislation specifically targeting these revenge photos because a person’s whole life can be disrupted, knowing that he or she can be recognized anywhere and even barred from getting certain jobs because of the photos.

Exchanging photos between two members of a committed, loving relationship can go horribly wrong when the relationship goes sour and one party has neither the respect, dignity, or ethics to let it go gracefully. Even though it reflects poorly on the character of the perpetrator, the victim is normally the one who suffers the most. Laws with mandatory financial punishments may help perpetrators think twice about posting revenge photos. Sometimes the perp might actually make money by distributing the photos, but money is not usually the motivation.

While the victim knows exactly who the perpetrator is, it might take some investigation to prove it, and this is often where we would enter the picture to help track down where the photos are going and who’s responsible for releasing them.

The Injustice Of Jury Duty

download (5)If you commit a crime, you have the right to a fair trial in which the court decides whether the government has the right to lock you up. But if you don’t commit a crime, the government has the right to “lock” you up (in a jury room) against your will and force you to render a decision as to whether the government has the right to lock up some one else who has committed a crime. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Jury duty is essentially community service for people who haven’t committed a crime.

About a half million people a year in New York State alone are subjected to jury duty. A great portion of them do not want to serve. To many of them it’s everything from a gross inconvenience to a physical hardship to emotional torment. And all this, for what? A voluntary jury system would do just as well as, if not better than, a mandatory jury system.

We have a robust military despite the fact that it’s voluntary and despite its inherent dangers. Why does anyone think people would not apply for jury duty if it were voluntary?

We give lip service to the notion of giving a person accused of a crime a fair trial. But the current jury system is anything but fair. Does anyone know how many jurors on a given case are actually paying attention to the court proceedings? Take for example someone who’s going through a bad divorce. He’s worried about losing his kids, losing his house, how to deal with lawyers, and how his estranged wife is strangling him financially and emotionally. All this is not enough to get him out of jury duty.

So if someone with such a disheveled state of mind sits on a jury, what on earth do you think he’ll be thinking about? The case in front of him? If he wanted to he probably couldn’t do it!

What about someone with a very sick close relative? He’s likely preoccupied with doctors, treatments, hospitals, medicines, etc. All this is also not enough to get him out of jury duty, as long as someone is currently taking care of that relative. Will he be able to get all this out of his mind to focus on a court case? Not very likely.

Then there are people with all sorts of ailments — chronic headaches, backaches, abdominal distress, flatulation, muscle cramps, knee pain, etc. — which are not severe enough to incapacitate them yet intense enough to make their lives miserable. They must also serve on jury duty. Such maladies can sometimes be disturbing enough to keep people from focusing on simple, everyday chores. They’re going to sit on a jury and pay attention to what’s going on? Gimme a break!

It’s not only adversities that interfere with one’s focusing on extraneous matters. People who run a business, for example, are plucked out of their lives and told, in effect, to stop thinking of their business and focus on a trial. Really? People can actually redirect their thoughts that easily? Who are we kidding?

And how about people who are just so irate over being forced to serve as a juror that they just don’t give a darn about what’s going on in the courtroom. I spoke to one guy who was a juror on a murder trail. He said he didn’t care which way the verdict went, he just wanted to go home!

This is justice? On what sick planet is this justice???

An uninvolved juror is worse than an empty seat. Empty seats don’t vote.

Isn’t it logical to assume that a juror who actually requested to serve would be more inclined to pay attention to a court proceeding than a juror who is being forced to appear?

Why in the world are we forcing people into mandatory jury duty, which is nothing but an irritant to many people and a gross injustice to those who’s life may literally depend on the votes of jurors who are physically in the courtroom but mentally elsewhere?

The mandatory jury system must be abolished! Serving as a juror is only your “civic duty” because it’s the law. If they repeal the law it’s no longer your civic duty. A voluntary jury system would be a win-win situation. The general public would be happier with it and people on trial would finally get true justice.

Five Things a Private Investigator Should Not Do for You

download (3)A Private Investigator has an interesting niche. Categorized as neither police nor entirely civilian, a PI can do certain things that police and civilians can’t. Let’s explore some of the things your PI should NOT be doing for you. If you find that he or she is, get out of your contract with them as quickly as you can and terminate the relationship.

1. A Private Investigator Can’t Break the Law.

For many people who believe everything they see on TV, a PI is a mysterious character who can take great liberties with the law in their country or jurisdiction. You’ve probably seen PI’s kidnap, hold people by force, beat up people to get them to talk, bribe officers, break into buildings, impersonate persons of authority to get others to talk, break into windows, photograph records without a warrant, etc. Basically, if it’s against the law, a PI can’t do it, even though there are certain privileges in some countries that come with being a PI.

2. A Private Investigator Can’t Wiretap and Is Not a Spy.

It’s illegal to record phone calls and conversations without informing the person being recorded, especially in environments where the person has a legal expectation of privacy. A PI might be more likely to be in a place where he can overhear certain conversations, because a PI can be on private property listening in as long as it’s not in violation of the law. If your PI is told to leave the property, either verbally or by a “No Trespassing” sign, and ignores that request, your PI is violating the trespassing laws. If you find out that your PI is recording people without their knowledge and you’re paying the investigator, terminate the contract immediately.

3. It’s Illegal for a Private Investigator to Impersonate.

If your investigator goes into a hospital, dons surgical scrubs, parades into a patient’s room, and proceeds to read the patient’s chart, that PI has just broken the law. Sure, you’ve seen it on TV shows, but that doesn’t make it legal and (hopefully) you won’t see any behavior like this in real life. Besides, it’s usually much easier to simply go to the hospital room, strike up a conversation with the patient, and get permission to glance at the chart. In real life, there’s almost always an easier, less dramatic way to get things done.

4. Your PI Must Not Trespass.

As stated above, your PI can’t break and enter, ignore “Keep Out” signs, steal evidence from any location, or just generally act sleazy. It only works in TV and movies.

5. Your PI Must Not Commit Battery.

If your PI grabs someone by the arm and tries to detain him or her, your PI is committing battery. Your PI will not get into nearly the number of fights you might expect him to. Your PI will use powers of observation and communication, not force.

With all these restrictions, you might wonder how much of the intelligence is gathered. It can be at the library, or via a series of interviews, talking with informants, and plain old surveillance. A PI usually tries to stay low profile, so communication skills are a must.

What CAN a Private Investigator Do?

1. In some countries, an officer cannot approach a private residence without reason.

That’s not true of a PI. The PI is certainly welcome to stroll up to the door just like any citizen, which makes it much easier for that PI to overhear certain conversations. While he might not be able to record them, it’s certainly okay to take notes. But the minute he’s detected and asked to leave, he must comply.

2. A PI Has Access to Certain Records that the Public Can’t Get.

This does depend on the country but in some cases a PI can access certain databases of banks, cell phones, property, and background checks that the general public can’t see. The only restriction is that the access needs to relate to a case that the PI is currently investigating. The PI is not a sworn officer, but there are some areas of trust that come if there is licensing.

3. A PI Can Stay Neutral in a Partnership.

Whether it’s a business or marriage partnership, a PI can be hired by one of the partners to investigate the other. There is no legal obligation to be loyal to both.

I hope this has been a fun glimpse into the life of a PI and what the PI can and shouldn’t do to help you with your case.

 

Secure Your Documents Now

download (2)We all want our lives to be in order, and when we document the correct bits of information and find the proper storage modality for them, we create order and peace of mind.

Here are some categories of information you’ll need to store and where.

Life Records – Store in Safe Deposit Box

These are records that would be hard to replace if lost, and in some cases, could be harmful if in the wrong hands. For example, it might not be terribly difficult to replace a government ID card such as the social security cards provided in the U.S., but an identity thief would be delighted to have yours.

Here are some examples of life records: Birth, Death, Marriage, Naturalization, Military Service, Adoption, Divorce, and Dissolution records. In the USA, Social Security and Medicare cards.

Other examples include proof of ownership: Titles to house, car, boat, or camper are included here. You also may have proof of authenticity for paintings, works of art, or jewelry. You may have a copyright for a book or other intellectual property, or a patent for something you invented. You also may be in possession of a note (record of money someone else owes you). Your original stocks, bonds, and mutual fund purchase records can be stored here (if not at the broker’s office).

Original signed contracts or copies can also be kept in your safe deposit box, such as pre-nuptial agreements, wills, Living Trusts, insurance policies, lease agreements, and payment schedules for notes or mortgages. If you have financial records stored at the broker’s office or elsewhere, you’ll need a list of everything and where it’s stored.

You also might make a video of all your possessions and store an electronic copy in your safe deposit box along with an itemized list of the purchase price, date of purchase, purchase price, and current value of each item in your video.

Now that almost everything can be stored electronically, it’s very important to keep copies in separate locations. If you have a house fire that destroys your computer, that won’t be so devastating if your backup storage is located in the safe deposit box or a storage unit far from home. And those backup storages should be changed out on a fairly frequent basis to minimize loss.

Note that you’ll get two keys to the safe deposit box, so give one copy to a trusted person who doesn’t live with you. In case of your incapacity, a house fire, or a natural disaster, the other key won’t be destroyed and the holder of that copy will be able to access your records and take care of things for you.

Active Records – Store at Home

You have some records that are in use or may be in use at any given time. These include unpaid bills, resumes, recommendation letters, insurance policies, transcripts and diplomas, an inventory of everything in your safe deposit box, your bank books, a list of all your bank accounts and holdings, your business records if you work from home, and contact information of a person who can step in for you if you’re incapacitated. You’ll also want your burial instructions, warrantees, and guarantees in your active records.

Inactive Records – Store at Home

This is where you’ll store paid bills, cancelled cheques, past tax returns, past employment records, and family health records that may help you if you find yourself with a genetic condition.

Some of these items have been listed under two categories. That means that they could be stored in either location, or that you might consider taking a photocopy of at least the most important pages of those documents and storing them in two places.

Make sure and go through all your records at least once a year and possibly twice, mainly so you can find everything you need instantly and also so you can toss out or shred items you no longer need. Experts recommend January as a good time, since that’s the time you’re going to gather your tax information.

I hope you enjoy this list as well as the sense of satisfaction you feel when you get completely organized!