Paying the Legal Fees of Employees Under Investigation

Last week several U.S. business and legal trade groups, including the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) filed a brief in support of KPMG’s position in their tax fraud case that they should not be penalized for paying the legal fees on behalf of employees who are the target of a government investigation. The issue raised is one that has perturbed defense white collar criminal defense lawyers since the Justice Department so-called “Thompson Memo” was issued. The Thompson Memo warns that corporate payment of employee legal representation is viewed as an adverse factor in determining whether a company is considered to be cooperating with the government. (Full Story in Legal Times May 8, 2006)

One of the problems with the Thompson Memo on this issue is that, if companies were to follow this guideline, it may well leave many company employees without legal representation. Since oftentimes investigations by the government may result in protracted legal representation, coupled with the intense and complicated nature of the investigations, it is likely that legal fees will be substantial and the employee, unless they are the likes of Ken Lay, will have a hard time affording competent legal counsel. It seems that the corporate and white collar lawyer concerns on this one are well founded. Of course, the government opposes the payment of legal fees, among other reasons, since it potentially jades the impartiality and loyalty of the employee as a possible witness. It would seem that on balance, if an innocent, low paid corporate employee is targeted as a “small fish” for later use as an informant against higher level executives, the government will have an unfair advantage in pressuring the employee to cooperate or face substantial legal fees. Such a Hobson’s choice may help fight corporate wrong-doing, but it may have other, far reaching and possibly more damaging affects on corporate America.

Criminal Investigator Salary

Crime is a constant issue that will never go away. While law enforcement has a better grip on how to handle and prevent crimes, there will never be a stop to the constant stream of people that turn to crime for whatever reason. By becoming a criminal investigator you will work on a wide range of cases ranging from murder to drug trafficking and make a significant mark on larger perpetrators. Your education will require a bachelor’s degree and certification at a minimum, but considering a criminal investigator salary upon graduation, the time will be worth it. Make sure that you are ready for what some people simply can’t stomach and you will enter into a field that needs you more now than ever before.

Becoming a Criminal Investigator

Criminal investigators (also known as crime scene investigators) are individuals that study and analyze crime scenes to obtain the information needed to find the person behind the crime. It isn’t always an easy job and many times you will have to deal with some very heinous crimes, but you are going after bigger criminals that do more than simply speed and have a warrant for not paying a ticket. There is an importance in keeping the smaller crimes in check, but you will focus on the big crimes and making a significant difference in the community around you by finding and stopping the most dangerous of criminals.

A criminal investigator salary generally starts around $55,000 a year. You’ll find that the salary will vary based on your experience, education and position. You’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a forensic science of some sort and you will also have to pass a certification. Continuing your education to earn a master’s degree with a focus on criminal justice is often desired but rarely required. The best way to ensure you are making the most of your education is to talk to a local police department and discuss your goals with them. They can guide you down the right path and let you know what they look for in new hires.

Another consideration that should be at the top of your list while earning your degree is gaining experience. This may come from working in an entry level position or simply spending time on ride-alongs within the department. This will give you real world experience in the field and ensure that you are prepared for the career path you are studying for. Talk to your local precinct about scheduling this type of time with them. The balance is going to be difficult to find when you start school, but there are ways to ensure that you can go to college and gain experience without having to make big changes to your personal life.

Online Degree Programs

Many colleges offer a wide range of online degree programs and you will find that by pursuing this type of education, the scheduling issues that arise from an traditional college schedule will not be as much of an issue.

When you start an online degree program you enter into a virtual classroom and start exploring a wide range of learning tools that are provided to ensure you are able to complete the work effectively. You will also find a schedule that lists the dates that assignments need to be submitted. What you won’t find is an hourly schedule. Instead, you decide, daily, when you want to work on your assignments, with the only responsibility being that you submit the work on time. As long as you are meeting these deadlines you are free to attend college on your schedule. All that is left is to take that first step and get started on a bright and exciting future.

Cyber Crime Investigation

Criminal investigation has a whole new frontier to conquer with cyber technology. All aspects of the investigation process include new challenges which require a totally new breed of experts. These experts would be the modern day versions of Sherlock Holmes, the anti-malware researchers. Cyber crime investigation begins with the work that these experts do.

The Objects of the Investigation

Intensive investigations are usually called for when there is a cyber attack that does a lot of damage. Most of these would be denial-of-service attacks which target websites that provide business services such as payments, online purchases or banking.

Such an attack usually means the website has been bombarded by an extreme volume of service requests. These requests come from compromised PCs which have been infected by bots, automated software programs that can execute certain process upon orders from a control center.

Computers can be infected with malware (malevolent software) which can come in the form of spyware, adware, rogue security software, Trojan horses, root kits, keyloggers, computer viruses, worms, ransom ware, and dialers.

Types of Investigations

There are four basic types of investigation done by digital forensic experts. Like all investigations, these are subject to legal restrictions if they are to hold up in court. This may seem strange to the ordinary lay person but when investigations start, forensics experts often need to coordinate with law enforcement to do everything by the book. There are times when controlling a botnet (a network of compromised computers) necessitates getting permission from a court of law.

Intelligence Gathering

The purpose of intelligence investigation in cyber crime is to identify, track and stop criminal activity. There is some leeway in terms of soundness of evidence when this is done merely for intelligence purposes since speed is often of the essence. At the same time, it may not be incumbent upon the forensics team to present evidence to court; the main goal may be to provide the information needed to begin an actual investigation.

Criminal Forensics

The purpose of criminal forensics in cyber crime investigation is to extract data, produce reliable evidence and present this in a way that can be understood by the court and lay people. Criminal forensics is typically part of a larger law enforcement investigation. This is done in collaboration with other specialists and the resulting reports are usually submitted to court as expert evidence.

Electronic Discovery

Electronic discovery (eDiscovery) is similar to criminal forensics in that it is also conducted in order to extract data and produce reliable evidence. However, the big difference between the two is that the process is often undertaken in relation to civil law.

There are distinct legal restrictions imposed on the performance of electronic discovery, particularly in terms of the scope that the investigation may cover. These legal restrictions often come in consonance with other laws such as those that protect privacy and human rights.

Intrusion Investigation

A fourth form of investigation in cyber crimes is the intrusion investigation. This is usually brought about by a complaint or a request to verify if some attempt is being made to intrude into a network or a hacker is trying to steal some confidential data. The intrusion investigation focuses on finding out what entry point has been used by the attacker. It also tries to determine the scope of the attack and how to diminish any impact such attack may have had.

Unlike other investigations which mostly occur after the fact, intrusion investigation is conducted in real time which means the forensic experts try to determine point of entry as the attack is going on and when they do this, they need to work skillfully with network forensics.

The Scope of Investigation

Today, Internet connectivity has increased exponentially since devices other than PCs have acquired access to cloud technology with its applications and networks. Technological progress has become a double-edged sword that has widened the scope of cyber crime investigation and the public can only hope that forensics will prove equal to the challenge.

Criminal Investigator Job Description

Law and order are one of the most important cornerstones of civilization. The fact that crime still exists suggests that it will never go away and people able to work in law enforcement will always be sought after. There isn’t a way to end crime. People are the root cause and as long as there are people making their own choices they will commit crimes. The criminal investigator job description will break down what you can expect to do within this career path. The key is that you will work on major crimes and try to find and bring in those that committed the worst crimes imaginable.

Criminal Investigation Careers

The first thing you should be aware of when you start to consider criminal investigation careers is the inevitability that you will be working with heinous crimes throughout your entire working life. From murder to drug related violence or abuse, you will likely see some of the most brutal and difficult to stomach crime scenes. If you have it in you to work on these types of crimes, you will find a great career and a high demand for your skills in the job sector.

To get started, your first step needs to be an education. You will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a forensic science in most cases, at a minimum, and pass a certification test as you move towards your career. If you want to have a better chance to move up in the field, or a better chance to enter at a high pay rate, you may want to consider moving towards a master’s degree with a criminal justice focus. You will still need to ensure that you earn a certification before becoming employed, but a master’s degree will take you far in the criminal investigation career path.

Most criminal investigators (also known as crime scene investigators) earn around $55,000 to start. That amount may vary based on your location, education, experience, and employer. Be sure to talk with a local law enforcement office before you get too far in your education to get a good idea of what your potential employers are looking for from fresh graduates. Earning experience is paramount and finding a way to balance your personal and school schedule alongside a work schedule can seem daunting. Surprisingly, many criminal investigators have followed this path and made it easier on themselves by attending online degree programs. With a little self-motivation, you will be able to make the push to earn a degree while also working and gaining experience in the field. All of this will make you much more desirable to employers.

Online College Courses

Many students do not consider taking an online degree program because it seems foreign and difficult. The reality is that online degree programs are very simple to handle and understand and the education contains all of the same materials. You won’t be taking a hit on your education by learning at your own pace.

Once you enroll in an online course, you will be given access to an online hub that gives you access to each of your online courses. Within these courses you will find the tools you need to succeed. The key is following the course schedule. As long as you are completing graded assignments by the time they are due on the course calendar, your daily schedule is yours to make. This freedom is extremely important for many students and makes it possible to go to school on any schedule. Be sure to talk with admissions advisors to get all of the information you need to make sure your first step is as free from stress as possible

Cracking the Whip on Intellectual Property Infringement

Abercrombie & Fitch revealed today that it will be expanding its fight against counterfeiting with its Brand Protection team, which will be headed by Shane Berry, a former Supervisory Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Brand Protection team will focus on improving its current strategies with regards to eliminating counterfeit A & F products.

As counterfeiting problems, particularly in the designer clothing arena, continue to increase, undermining companies’ sales, I think we will see more moves like that of Abercrombie. Companies need to take a very active role in protecting their brand. Launching counterfeiting programs and staffing them with former law enforcement officials who have experience in counterfeiting investigations is a good step towards protecting a company’s brand. Former FBI agents are great at ferreting out infringement through their training and experience and from obtaining and working with informants, among other things. In fact, Fortress Global’s IP infringements investigations are also conducted by a team of former high ranking FBI and INTERPOL agents.

Companies addressing counterfeiting issues by establishing a brand protection team and conducting intellectual property infringement investigations should also make sure that they are getting a solid bang for their buck with the evidence they gather from these investigations. Companies should take legal action against all copyright, trademark and patent infringers, no matter how minor the offense is and make sure that the lawsuit receives media attention, working with public relations teams as necessary. It will send a chilling effect out to infringers- “Abercrombie has a zero tolerance policy for infringer, don’t mess with them”. Additionally, companies should gather evidence in of infringement in the jurisdictions where counterfeit merchandise is being manufactured in and distributed to. Legal action should be taken against both the manufacturer and the distributor. If your company establishes itself as a force to be reckoned with in the intellectual property world, counterfeiters are sure to get the word and intellectual property infringement problems will thereafter decrease.

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Celebrity Detective’s Crimes Bring to Light Ethical Violations

Los Angeles based private investigator Anthony Pellicano’s recent 110-count federal indictment for wiretapping and other charges brings to light certain arguments that Americans are having regarding the right to eavesdrop on third-party conversations. Of course, we all know about President Bush’s fights with Congress over the right for the Bush administration to continue wiretapping without congressional approval. Bush’s argument is that in the time of war, we need to use all available resources to catch the bad guy. Okay…Well, the government will do what it feels necessary to do, but what about private citizens developing illegal software to listen in on third-party conversations?

Pellicano, with the aid of a colleague, created illegal eavesdropping software in an effort to intercept calls and listen in on private conversations. He used he device, Telesleuth, to record phone calls on behalf of certain attorneys to celebrity clients. All attorneys affiliated with Pellicano are now denying all knowledge of Pellicano’s illegal activities.

It’s hard enough to imagine that the government has to listen in on my conversations, but private citizens? That seems to be a gross violation of my privacy rights. Pellicano’s case will determine the consequences our citizens will face if they violate the wiretap laws now in place. One would hope that law and investigation firms, who are largely in positions of public trust, would refrain from wiretap activity, even if it would help win their case, seeing as it is illegal and unethical.

This also raises a much less philosophical point, which is the importance of working with only the highest quality private investigators and private investigative firms. That is, an investigator who, in additional to knowledge of and familiarity with the laws that govern private investigators’ work, have and uphold high ethical standards. In addition to making sure that the investigator holds a license and proper insurances, contact licensing authorities and inquire if the investigator’s license is in good standing. Inquire of the investigative firm about their credentials. Ask for the references of past client.

Are you guilty of a crime? A brain scan may help determine the truth

University of South Carolina and University of Pennsylvania have both reported increased accuracy in brain scanning and entrepreneurs Joel Huizenga and Steven Laken hope to capitalize on their good fortune by offering lie-detecting services to government agencies and others who are interested in proving their innocence. Laken hopes to offer the fMRI lie-detecting services with crimes of a civil nature, like libel, slander, and fraud, where the issue is one person’s word against another; Laken also sees its uses in employee screening by government agencies. The labs at the universities both use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in order to study the brain and early research indicates that when the fMRI detects tiny changes in blood flow in certain areas in the brain, those areas work harder when a person is lying.

Of course, the research is in the early stages and there needs to be more experimenting using the technique in other labs as well as with seasoned criminals in order to determine the effectiveness of the fMRI’s ability to detect lies. Malcolm Ritter, a writer for the Associated Press, volunteered for the brain scan at the University of South Carolina. The lab technicians had him, prior to the brain scan, take a ring or a watch from one of the drawers in the room and place it with his belongings. He was then asked a series of routine questions in order to determine his baseline for the fMRI and then was asked which item he stole from the drawer. Ritter lied on the brain scan, as did the 31 volunteers in Dr. Mark George of University of South Carolina’s study. A computer compares the truthful responses to the questions regarding the crime itself. The computer, using the fMRI data, was able to detect the lies in 28 out of the 31 volunteers but those volunteers were not criminals and it will be interesting to see what impact that has on the actual findings. One of the reasons this study may not represent true findings is the lack of actual punishment. Dr. George’s next study will focus more on the real-life consequences associated with lying, which will be funded by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute.

Although the doctor in charge of the study, Mark George, indicates that the brain scan should not be an issue of invasion of privacy because of the necessity for the complete cooperation of the volunteer, there are issues that must be addressed. What about those individuals coerced into taking the test? Or what if, in the course of the test, another crime that you committed was to come to light? Can charges be brought against you? It seems there is still research that must be conducted before it can be utilized in the court system. Hopefully, we will learn more about the accuracy and reliability of the fMRI with detecting lies before we use it in trials where individuals can be sentenced to prison or to death.