I wrote this article over 10 years ago. I thought I'd place it on the blog because even with updated technology and the internet, investigators still take written declarations and tape-recorded statements.
So, here it is...
Recorded Statement vs. Written Declaration
by Jay Rosenzweig
The recorded statement is not an easy replacement of the signed written declaration. It has its own techniques and advantages and disadvantages. The following is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages of a recorded statement as compared to a written statement:
Advantages of a Recorded Statement:
a. The statement is given in the subject's own words and his or her particular accent and phrase usage.
b. The recording will indicate a subject's emphasis and inflections and will give an idea as to whether he or she is forceful and positive or weak and vacillating.
c. Is probably the preferred method of obtaining a statement from an illiterate person.
d. Usually easier to read than a hand written declaration.
e. Generally takes less time to complete than a written statement.
Disadvantages of a Recorded Statement:
a. The statement is not signed by the subject at the time of interview (Unless the transcription is sent to the subject at a later date for signature).
b. Subject may "freeze" knowing the conversation is being recorded.
c. Faulty handling of the recorded interview can result in the statement being useless as evidence.
d. It is essential that the recording be clear and audible. Background noise not noticed at the time may prove to effectively "wipe out" much of the recorded interview by covering the voices, making it difficult or impossible to hear and understand the questions and answers.
e. Impressions of witnesses are more accurate in person rather the over the telephone (if it's not a personal interview).
Most statements are used in court for impeachment purposes only. However, in some cases, if you show up in court with a pile of witness statements in your favor, most likely the judge will take that into consideration when rendering a decision.
Remember, even if the witness does not want to cooperate and provide a statement (but will provide an interview), you can still use your notes for impeachment purposes. I suggest that you do not conduct investigation on your own behalf, but to hire a professional. Courts give more credibility to a 3rd party (or someone impartial) rather that someone related to the case.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
Where to Find Vital Records Online
Let's start with this page that has most of the links for where to find information about State and County birth, marriage and death records from around the USA - FreePRF.com's Birth, Marriage & Death Records page.
If you are trying to find the birth date of the person you are researching, I suggest trying this site that has a free birth date lookup - BirthDatabase.com. BirthDatabase.com is a pretty good resource of finding the exact year, month and day of a person's birth. The best part is that it's FREE. The only fallback with this site is that you can't narrow your search by state. The search results cover the entire USA for all the persons with the name you area looking up. Some names are omitted from this database.
RootsWeb.com has a very good death index. You can search by first, middle and last name. You can also search by social security number.
For birth information, Ancestry.com is another good resource. It also has a death information database.
Marriage records are tricky, especially if you want information from California. Most recent marriage records in California are confidential. You can obtain some information from VitalSearch.ca; however, the records only go up to 1986.
Vitalsearch-ca. also has a marriage database for Texas. Their Texas marriages database is comprised of over 6 million groom/bride entries from 1967-2002 displayed in straight text form. In addition they have a Kentucky marriage database from 1973-2002.
Clark County Nevada (Las Vegas) has a great marriage records database. Marriages are indexed on-line from 1984 through the present. This marriage inquiry system is also FREE to use.
If you cannot find the vital records information online, try The National Center For Health Statistics page on "Where to Write For Vital Records." It lists the mailing addresses, phone numbers of all the states vital records offices and how to obtain such records.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Find out who your family members are talking to on the Internet.
I frequently receive calls from parents that want to know who their children are talking to on the internet. In addition, husbands/wives want to know the content of the emails their spouse is sending to someone they might be having an affair with. I tell my clients that I cannot obtain the information from these emails without a subpoena.
I suggest Spector Pro 5.0. Spector records all web sites visited, all keystrokes typed, all incoming and outgoing e-mails. As frequently as once per second, Spector secretly takes a snapshot of your computer's screen, and allows for easy, VCR-like playback. Spector is ideal for parents concerned about what their children do on the Internet and for employers concerned about loss of productivity due to recreational use of the Internet on company time. Spector has also become very popular for the wife or husband who suspects their spouse of cheating online. With Spector, you SEE EXACTLY what someone else was doing on the Internet.
eBlaster is a product that automatically forwards you an EXACT COPY of their Chats, Instant Messages and Emails.
eBlaster is the ONLY software in the world that will capture their incoming and outgoing email, chats and instant messages - then IMMEDIATELY forward you an EXACT COPY.
You are at work and your child is home from school. She receives an email from John at 3:00 PM. Within seconds, you receive a COPY of that email sent to your email address. A few minutes later, she replies to John's email. Within seconds, you receive a COPY of what she sent to John.
In addition, eBlaster also records ALL emails, chats, instant messages, web sites visited, keystrokes typed, programs launched and peer-to-peer (P2P) files downloaded - then sends it to you via email in the form of a detailed Activity Report.
Both Spector Pro 5.0 and eBlaster are reasonably priced. Right now each product is $99.95. Using one or both of these products is much more efficient and cost effective than having someone conduct surveillance and having the possibility of getting "burned" while following them.
Word from the wise- if you have young children, make sure you place parental controls on their computer and always monitor their activity. The internet is a breeding ground for sexual predators and we do not want our children caught up in it.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
The Web Has Many Free Property Records and Valuation Sites
The site zillow.com is the hottest and newest property valuation site on the web. It seems to show up on every blog and Yahoo Group that pertains to public records.
Zillow provides a free home valuation tool which includes square
footage, bedroom/bathroom count, historical information, assessed
value of homes in the area and a satellite map of the property and the
If you are looking to see if someone owns a parcel of land, this page covers most states and counties - Free Property Records Online
Nationwide Environmental Title Research (Netronline) has the most comprehensive collection of both online and offline county assessor, recorder and tax collector contact information.
If the state or county of the property you need to obtain information does not have a free webservice, then I suggest Intelius. The Intelius property report is $14.95 and includes sales history, current value, lot size, property details, owners information, current mortgage, legal description & more.