Arguably the biggest change to happen to civil litigation in the past few decades was the introduction of e-discovery. E-discovery, or electronic discovery, enables law professionals to enter evidence into the case that has been found on an electronic device. People and businesses conduct a majority of their actions using laptops, mobile phones, and other devices.
However, collecting this evidence is not always as easy as downloading a few files from a desktop computer or logging into someone’s email account. Private investigation firms are there to help when e-discovery becomes more complicated.
When an individual is partaking in fraudulent or otherwise malicious behavior, they will often be very careful when it comes to the records they keep. For example, a cheating spouse that does not want to get caught will most likely delete text messages and emails received from extramarital partners after reading them, just to be safe. If this person knows that they are going to be investigated soon, the chance that sensitive files are erased becomes even greater.
So, how do you collect this evidence if it has been trashed?
Fortunately, many of these files are never truly deleted. In many instances, files that have been deleted may not appear in the file directory anymore, but the information is maintained elsewhere on the computer’s disk for quite some time, until the information is eventually overwritten. Even if the data has already been overwritten, there are ways that skilled e-discovery investigators can locate fractions of the file in order to create a partial or complete document or image once again. Within the investigative industry this is referred to as data mining or sometimes data recovery.
As technology advances, it actually becomes easier for professional investigators to find the information that they need to build a case. Many software platforms are designed to automatically save and back-up files periodically, and many Internet servers collect information about visitors that might be recoverable in order to track web histories. Thanks to an emphasis on data storage, important pieces of data are often stored in many different places. It is just a matter of locating the pieces and assembling them.
Thanks to the changes made to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2006, it has become much more admissible to use e-discovery in a legal proceeding, but there are methods and practices that must be followed. Especially if the defendant in a case has physically damaged a device, the legal professionals may need to be able to explain exactly how they were able to extract information, and prove that it does belong to the defendant.
Experienced and qualified private investigators are able to not only use sophisticated software to extract information from damaged hardware, but they can also act as an expert witness in order to give credibility to the evidence. These professionals are quite knowledgeable when it comes to repairing damaged documents and files, and can easily verify that the e-discovery items are legitimate and were legally obtained.
Prudential Associates offers e-discovery services for clients throughout Maryland, Washington DC & Virginia. Contact us today to find out how we can help you ensure your e-discovery process turns up all of the information you need to build a successful legal case.