The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

Best Practices for Gathering Evidence for an Investigation (WBI Article)

A whistleblower is a person who exposes any type of misconduct, illegal activity or fraud taking place in a company or organization. Often, whistleblowers must collect evidence to support their allegations. In this article, we will discuss best practices and rules whistleblowers must follow when collecting evidence from the defendant.

Whistleblowers often play an important role in uncovering illegal or unethical behavior in their workplace. They can also provide critical evidence in a lawsuit. Whistleblowers often find themselves in a difficult position when they collect evidence during the course of their investigation. They must be careful not to break the law while trying to gather evidence that can help prove their case.

The first step a whistleblower should take when collecting evidence is to create and document a timeline of the events they are aware of. This timeline should include the date, time, location and any other relevant details surrounding the event. The whistleblower should also make note of any potential witnesses who may have seen or heard something related to the event. It is important to be as specific as possible when creating this timeline, as it will be used to support the allegations made.

The next step is to begin collecting evidence. This may include documents, emails, audio or video recordings, or anything else that can help support the allegations. It is important to collect as much evidence as possible, as it will make it easier to build a strong case. When collecting evidence, it is important to follow any rules and regulations set forth by the company or organization. Failure to do so could result in legal action being taken against the whistleblower. Even more important, whistleblowers should not take anything they do not have a right to take. Whistleblowers should not unlawfully access computers they do not have rightful access to, and should not take company documents they are not entitled to take. Whistleblowers, instead, should make note of where these documents can be found and they can take pictures of those documents. It is best to discuss with a whistleblower lawyer how to approach collecting evidence the whistleblower does not have rightful access to.

Each state has its own recording law. Some are two-party consent states and some are one-party consent states. In two-party consent states, both parties to the conversation must agree to being recorded. If you’re going to record a conversation in one of those states, get the other person’s permission first. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they vary by state so it’s best to check with an attorney in your state if you’re unsure.

In one-party consent states, as long as you are a party to the conversation, you can record it without the other person’s permission. The rule is different if you’re recording someone else’s conversation that you’re not a part of – in that case, you need the other person’s permission in order to record it.

A word of caution – even if you’re in a one-party consent state, there are certain conversations that may not be recorded without the other person’s consent. These are typically conversations where there is an expectation of privacy, such as in a doctor’s office or in a conversation between an attorney and client.

If you’re not sure whether you can record a conversation, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and get the other person’s permission before hitting record.

There are also federal laws that govern recording conversations. The Federal Wiretap Act prohibits the intentional interception of “any wire, oral, or electronic communication” without the consent of at least one party to the conversation.

The law applies to conversations that take place using any kind of electronic device, including cell phones, computers, and two-way radios. It also applies to conversations that are transmitted using a phone line, even if the conversation is not recorded. There are a few exceptions to this law, but the bottom line is, if you’re thinking about recording a conversation, it’s best to check the laws in your state and make sure you understand the federal law before hitting record.

Once evidence has been collected, it is important to preserve it in a safe place. This will ensure that the evidence is not tampered with or destroyed. It is also important to make copies of the evidence, as it will be used in the investigation or lawsuit.

Finally, the evidence must be organized in a way that is easy to understand. This may include creating a report or presentation that outlines the allegations and provides supporting evidence. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for investigators or lawyers to review the evidence and determine whether or not there is merit to the allegations.

By following these best practices, whistleblowers can increase their chances of success when collecting evidence for an investigation or lawsuit. If you have any questions about gathering evidence, or if you need assistance with an investigation or lawsuit, please contact us. We are here to help!