Reply To: Can I give my surveillance videos directly to clients?

George Gergis, CLI


    If your videos are captured without violation of law or ethics, then of course you can give them to the client; however, it seems that is not the question you are trying to answer. When working domestic cases, the client is very emotionally involved and heavy emotions cloud people’s judgement, and this may lead to some uncontrollable behavior, that may be the urge to blow your surveillance or compromise evidence collected or even lead to criminal acts.

    The question is: should you give the client video or other evidence that will elicit a highly emotional response from your client?

    The answer is that you must prepare the client and manage the emotional state depending on the client. We are not psychologist, however, what sets a good detective apart from the rest is their knowledge of human behavior. Determine a method of relaying emotional information to a client in stages. This is what is known as client management.

    Stage 1: Remind them that the goal in a domestic surveillance is to prove three (3) elements
    a) The subject had the opportunity to commit infidelity
    b) The subject had the time to commit infidelity (some courts have ruled that 15 minutes in a room with a member of the opposite sex is enough time)
    c) The subject has the intent or inclination to commit infidelity (i.e. displays of affection in public, text or email communications, etc.)

    Sometimes all three elements can be proven with one session of surveillance, other times it may take multiple sessions to piece together.

    Stage 2: Report to the client that it seems like you may have been able to establish the elements of infidelity; however, need to review all the information gathered. Don’t answer anything direct and delay at least 24 hours.

    Stage 3: Report that it looks like the evidence has proven that the subject is having an affair and you would like to get them the information. Describe some of the video to them in a clinical manner. Let the client know that the video will be ready the next day or in two days and give them a choice if they want a see the video or just send it directly to the attorney. (most will want to see it, but this is a good method of gaging their emotions, possible reactions and buys you some time as a cooling off period)

    Stage 4: Show them the video in your office if possible or be present with them so you can gage their emotional state. Figure out the best conversation you can have to keep your client focused and thinking logical. (have standard speech that can be adjusted to circumstances and personality of the client)

    Hope this helps; your client management techniques will improve with experience. Individual private clients that involve domestic cases or child custody cases usually have the highest emotional involvement. Being able to ethically manage emotional clients is a responsibility that we have to our profession and general public, so we must have a plan to mitigate any possible bad behavior.

    Charge enough money, maintain good business practices and ethics so you don’t find yourself being THAT GUY that manipulates the client’s emotions for financial gain.


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