Ghost Hunter

Since most people have some level of debt, most of them show up in our databases. Therefore, when an investigator like me searches for your name, I can usually find your last known address in about three or four clicks of the mouse. Other searches can determine if you own your house, have any criminal or civil records, and whether you have any liens or judgments against you.

Due to the economy in part, it is much trickier when we are trying to find that 7.7 percent of the population that does not have any debt. These are the people on the edge, usually working for cash under the table,or homeless people, or immigrants. Sometimes, they are just people who have learned how not to be found,avoiding debt and/or family by taking on new identities or keeping their money tucked away in their mattresses.

However, there tends to be a reverse correlation between the extent that people show up in databases and their criminal history. In other words, homeless people and people who don’t want to be found typically have more contact with law enforcement, which makes it more likely that they’ll have arrest records that may indicate their whereabouts.This is less true for recent immigrants.

I get asked to find people all the time. Some of them are not so easy. Given a name only at times, some are so far “off the grid” they are like Ghost.

Ghosts are people who are apparently alive and walking among us but who fail to show up in any significant way on anything that is connected to a computer. Ghosts live paycheck to paycheck, if they even get a paycheck. They eschew contact with the police. Any money they have is spent immediately in the form of cash or it is hidden in a mattress. They generally don’t drive, relying on public transportation or the kindness of cohorts to get them around. They exist in a purgatory between the legitimate world that we know and the netherworld.

Finding  a Ghost is sometimes the measure of the Private Investigator. It is not about the technology. It is about “old school”, a tank of gas and knocking on doors. Talking to this person which leads to this person which leads to this person and if no one is lying to you, you may get a lead. The Investigator who turns off the computer and gets out of the office is often your best bet.

Can Ghost be found?  Yes I really believe so. Im reminded of that game “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon”. In six actors or less, you can connect anyone in Hollywood to that actor. I believe that works on a larger scale too. You just have to find that one person to connect you to your Ghost.

How many doors are you willing to knock on?

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Dating During Your Divorce

Divorce is a trying situation, and many people focus on the day everything is final and it’s time to start a new chapter in life. You might also find you’re ready to date and want to start the search for the right person to share your life with. Life doesn’t always follow a strict timeline, so what happens if you’re ready to date before your divorce is final?

Think carefully about how to manage the overlap between your pre- and post-divorce worlds, and how dating during your divorce could complicate getting on with your life.

Divorce Issues and Your New Relationship

Dating before your divorce is final could create or at least complicate issues in your divorce case. Your divorce lawyer can best guide you on the issue of whether or not dating presents possible legal problems.

Dating, Adultery and Your Divorce

In most states, the law allows you to seek a divorce either on fault-based grounds, meaning one spouse’s misconduct or wrongdoing is the reason for the divorce, or a no-fault divorce. Examples of fault-based grounds are adultery, desertion or cruelty.

In many states, dating before your divorce is final could fall within the legal definition of adultery. If you’re dating while still married, it’s possible that your spouse could raise the issue of adultery, complicating your case.

Spousal Support and Property Settlements

Depending on state law and the facts of your case, a new relationship could affect decisions in your divorce on spousal support and property division. In some states, a person’s misconduct, such as adultery, can impact these issues.

Living with a new partner could raise issues in your divorce. Your spouse might argue your expenses are less, and it should be a factor in deciding spousal support and property division. Keep in mind once your divorce is final, modifying support can be difficult.

Child Custody and Visitation Issues

Take care and use consideration when it comes to your children and dating during your divorce. Divorce is a major change in your children’s lives, so helping them cope while providing support and stability is important.

Think about how you want to introduce your children to the person you’re dating. Many people opt for slow introductions and integration. There’s no set timeline to follow, though, and everyone is different.

Your new relationship could be a factor if child custody and visitation issues aren’t yet settled in your divorce. A child’s best interests is the typical standard used in determining these issues. It’s aimed at securing your child’s well-being. A court could consider:

  • The level of involvement your children have with the person you’re dating
  • Whether or not your new boyfriend or girlfriend poses any danger to your children
  • Whether or not living with your boyfriend or girlfriend is in your child’s best interests

Your divorce lawyer can best help you assess your situation, as courts have considerable leeway in deciding these issues.

Remember that divorce is a stressful and emotional situation for all involved. Keep dating from becoming an issue in your divorce, and avoid added conflict, time and costs. With your case completed sooner, rather than later, you’ll be free to move on with your life and your new relationship.

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How to get a restraining order.

There are any number reasons why you may need a restraining order. Your spouse or partner may be abusing you or your child, or someone you once dated is stalking you. In cases like these and hundreds of others, a restraining order may be the key to your safety and peace of mind.

Once you’ve made the tough decision that you need one, it’s time to act. Knowing how to get a restraining order and how it will be enforced is the only way to get the protection you need.

Getting a Restraining Order

The process for obtaining a restraining order varies from state to state, but the same general steps usually apply.

First, you need to get some paperwork. You can get the forms at your local courthouse, or they’re often found online. Many shelters and domestic abuse prevention organizations also have the forms. Once you have the forms, the process goes like this:

  • Complete the forms, describing the abusive or harassing behavior in as much detail as possible
  • Take your forms, your ID and identifying information about the person you seek protection from to your local courthouse
  • The court clerk takes your forms and information to a judge, who decides if a temporary restraining order is needed until a hearing on your application
  • A hearing date for the permanent restraining order is set
  • Arrange for service of process to the alleged abuser. It gives that person notice of the application and hearing details
  • Hearing and decision. At the hearing, you must show the abuse or harassment, and your need for protection. The judge decides whether to issue the permanent restraining order, usually that same day

Enforcing a Restraining Order

Once a restraining order is granted, you should make several copies and keep one with you at all times. Also leave a copy of the order at work and your children’s school or daycare. An abuser or harasser breaks the law when they don’t follow the restraining order’s terms.

But it’s up to you to make sure the order is enforced. Call the police immediately if the person violates the order. The police should make a report of the incident, and if necessary, enforce the order by ordering the person to leave you alone or by arresting that person. In cases where the police refuse to act, usually you can:

  • File a civil lawsuit for contempt
  • Talk to your local prosecutor about pressing criminal charges

Either way, the person faces jail time, a fine or both for violating the restraining order.

No one actually tries to get into sticky situations where restraining orders are needed. It just happens. When it happens to you, stand up for your safety, property or a loved one by using the law to get the protection you need.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What are my options if a judge refuses to issue a restraining order?
  • Can I use physical force to to stop someone from violating a restraining order?
  • Are police officers legally liable if they refuse to enforce a restraining order and I’m later injured by the person named in the restraining order?
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Process Service

Wouldn’t it be great if we could perfect service on the 1st attempt every time? We all know not every serve can go as planned and oftentimes difficult people make for difficult situations.As a process server I find that my skills at times are tested. When these difficult serves arise I must remember that I am an investigator first. Process servers and investigators alike must have the skills of creativity, logic, communication and the ability to use innovative techniques to complete an efficient serve.
Planning and Preparation:
Planning and preparation is so important to any successful process server. As part of your preparation for an assignment, you should always gather as much information as possible on the individual you are about to serve.
As a standard, I always ask the client if the following information is available on the individual I am about to serve:
  • Name, address and personal phone numbers
  • Work address and work phone number
  • Aliases or nicknames
  • What kind of vehicle do they drive? Year, make, model, color or other unique identifiers are helpful too.
  • Does the client have a picture or physical description of the person to be served?
  • Is there a specific time service should be made?
  • Have they been avoiding service or are they expecting and agreeable to service?
  • Can the documents be sub-served?
  • Is the individual known to be violent?
I also like to do a quick pre-surveillance check of the area in which I will be serving by using a variety of Internet tools such as Google Maps, Google Street Views and Microsoft’s Bing Maps (formerly Live Maps). This allows me to get familiar with the surroundings, alerts me to any potential hazards and may identify any other entry points to the address.
A prepared process server is a successful process server!
Unwilling and Evasive Individuals
Our standard service of process rates are based on 3 diligent attempts over a period of six days at varying times. What happens if I do not get the individual on the 3rd attempt or they appear to evading service?
Search Public Records. Before charging any additional costs to my client, I like to quickly check my local clerk’s public records on line. I check for pending court cases and updated information. I have found pending court cases on many individuals and ended up serving them in court right before their appearance. In searching these free public records, I have also found updated addresses that our client may not have had.
Conduct Simple Internet Research. Sometimes a lot of information about a person can be found through just a simple Internet search. I found an individual’s current employment address just by viewing their Linkedin Profile.
Talk to Neighbors. Talk to neighbors to find out the habits or whereabouts of the individual you are trying to serve. Sometimes you will find that the individual is on vacation or works odd hours. Always be cautious when talking to neighbors; they do not need to know anything about the case or the true nature of your visit (you don’t want the neighbor to put your defendant on notice).
Take Notes. Document all evidence that supports the fact that the individual you have been trying to serve is evading service. Attorneys can often file a pleading to the court regarding the evasive defendant and they will need your factual information in order to do so.
Remember to always work out a cost effective plan with your client to deal with unwilling or evasive individuals ahead of time. Here are some additional service techniques that many of us use in these difficult situations:
  1. Find out if a request for a change of address has been filed with the Post Office.
  2. Skip trace the subject using a dependable nationwide database provider, this can often yield additional billable hours or service fees.
  3. Conduct a stakeout. We oftentimes can serve difficult service after a short surveillance and “service by ambush.” This is another lucrative add-on service!
  4. If you have phone numbers for the individual, use creative pretexting techniques.
    Of course before conducting any skip trace or pretext remember to follow your state laws and regulations:

    • NEVER represent yourself as a law enforcement officer, clergyman, employee or member of an actual company.
    • MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY. Do not reveal personal or intimate information about your subject to individuals having no right to or need for such information.
    • NEVER use your correct name or leave your telephone number.
    • NEVER pretext to obtain information from financial institutions, telephone companies or other protected information.
  5. Be innovative and creative. Sometimes you just have to think outside of the box. Serving evasive individuals is like a game of “cat and mouse,” but by putting your investigative expertise and creativity to work you can often catch the individual off guard. For example… I had to serve a taxi driver once and he was evading service at his home and at work. I ended up calling his taxi service and asked for the driver to pick me up at my office; the call was under the pretense that I needed a ride to the airport. When he came to pick me up, I was able to serve him successfully… Out of courtesy, I paid his cab fare to my location… it was worth the effort and the client did not mind picking up the tab on this very important assignment.
There is a pretty good chance that you will outsmart your evasive or unwilling recipient by using creative techniques, thinking quickly and being persistent. If you are in doubt of using an unusual method of service of process consult with your attorney to ensure you are operating within the laws and regulations of your jurisdiction.
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Personal Note from Armfield Investigations

  • Each year, Armfield Investigations does more and more work concerning Protective Orders.  They may not be a perfect system or a magic cure all to keep him away but they are an important step. Never let anyone say  that a protective order is worthless because it’s just not true.
  • Even if they don’t  work to keep him away you have established  a record to prove to a judge that you took steps to keep him away and when  he violates the order he only makes it clear to the judge that he is out of  control and likely dangerous.
  • Do not let yourself be hurt. Tell somebody when you need help.
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    Bringing the Facts/Making Sense of it.

    Mostly, a private investigator’s job is to collect and organize data for his clients. But sometimes, a client needs something more: knowledge.

    Often, my clients have hired us because they’ve found themselves in a bewildering and painful personal situation: a betrayal of some kind, by a spouse or business partner. These are situations in which the human heart, that magic something that interprets data and shapes it into a story that enlightens us, often leads us down the wrong path. When people are in the kind of emotional state that usually accompanies betrayal by a spouse, friend, or colleague, it’s particularly difficult to interpret facts objectively; we  tend to read and re-read  the information until it tells us what we want to hear, or what we have already convinced ourselves is true.

    Sometimes, an emotional  client might need a little help with the knowledge – an independent, objective  observer who can offer alternate interpretations of the facts , without  personal interest or emotion. A private investigator is your very own personal operative, the person you can rely on to gather the useful information and help you put it together in a meaningful way.

    As a private investigator, I am very cautious about offering  opinions. However, it is certainly my job, and my responsibility, to test and question my clients’ assumptions, and to sometimes serve as my clients’ guide through the difficult and painful
    minefield of turning facts into knowledge. And it’s absolutely my job to be
    sure that we gather the facts necessary to support that knowledge beyond any
    reasonable doubt .

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    Are you being followed by a PI?

    People hire private  investigators for a variety of reasons. Private investigators, or PIs, will follow, photograph, research and otherwise pry into the lives of the targeted individual in an attempt to uncover the truth. Due to the nature of their work, their presence is meant to be undetectable, but there are still some ways you can spot them.
    Keep track of the cars parked in front of your house and frequented locations, such as favorite restaurants or work. PIs often like to make physical surveillance observations from the seat of a car that will be parked outside
    locations you often visit. If you begin to notice the same car color, make and model, write down its license plate. Verify that this plate is the one you’ve been seeing at other locations.
    Watch the people around you, and make a mental note of their faces. If you happen to see the same person showing up in multiple locations, he may be following you. To be sure, make an unexpected detour from your planned itinerary  to see if he follows.
    Rearch your home computer for evidence that someone else has been digging  through it. Many PIs are trained in the fields of computer forensics, giving  them the ability to hack into email accounts, review old computer files and   more. In the case of a spouse hiring a PI to investigate the other spouse,  hacking computer files may not even be illegal if the spouse who hired the PI gave his permission to do it. Check for recovered files that you have deleted.
    Be suspicious of people who seem out of place. A PI may pose as a client for your business, a coincidental new friend or other alias that may give him access to people and places necessary to obtain proprietary information. If  someone seems illegitimate or out of place, there may be a reason.
    Drop a piece of paper on the ground if you suspect that someone is  following you on foot. Legally, trash that you discard is considered free for anyone to take. This includes PIs. Since their job is to acquire as much
    information about you as possible, any little thing is useful, including discarded papers. Throwing away a piece of paper you’ve written on is the  perfect decoy to interest a PI and make her reveal her /his identity.
    Merge into a crowded area of people or a very specific location to see if the suspected PI follows you. There is little random chance that a non-PI will follow you three blocks onto a particular subway car. Use specific, intended routes to see if your follower is legitimate. This will help you identify a PI quickly
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    Communication between client and investigator

    As a private investigator, Armfield Investigations is in a unique position in today’s world of uncertainty.  We are seriously viewed by most potential clients to be part secret agent, part psychologist and part attorney (while we carry none of these  licenses or official titles).  Our clients seek not only our ability to help identify and provide them with important facts and/or help them solve sensitive problems, but also to share our own personal opinions regarding the situation they are dealing with.

    We develop such a deep and personal communication with our client that at times, we find ourselves intertwined with the client’s particular dilemma.  We deal with very sensitive and sometimes illegal behaviors and are oftentimes presented with that most important of questions from our clients, “What would you do?”  We must be extremely diligent and calculated in our responses in such a way as to not appear to be offering legal or moral counseling.  While at the same time, we do not want to be unsympathetic to our client’s needs.

    As much as it is important to generate the most accurate and complete facts to help a client with their problem, it is equally as important to remember that it is still “their” problem.  We have a legal, moral, and ethical responsibility to our clients to provide them with the best facts possible to allow them to make the most informed decision. Always remembering it is their decision to make.

    A suitable response to that most sensitive of questions, “What would you do” should be well rehearsed and communicated to the client their initial objective, your findings, and all possible scenarios.  In the end the client will certainly appreciate the honesty and understand that they hired an investigator, not a therapist!  Remember, a person faced with uncertainty will typically trust those individuals closest to him/her including the person(s) responsible for getting the information to them.

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    When He ignores the Protective Order

    You need to  call the police or sheriff dept at once, even if you think it is a minor violation. This is a must. The protective order is not in force only when you want it to be.  The protection order can be violated if the stalker does not follow every provision in the order.  It can be a crime and s/he can be “held in contempt of court” if the stalker knowingly violates the order in any way.  If you file a petition in the court that issued the order for contempt, the judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court (disobeying a court order). You can file for this even if the police don’t make an arrest or file criminal charges.

    If you do call the police, it is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officers and their badge numbers in case you want to follow up on your case.  It is also important to have a copy of the protective order with you at all times. Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made.  If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it could help you have the order extended or modified.

    If the stalker has been served with the ex parte order or the final protective order and violates the order, he can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and can be forced to pay a fine of up to $1,000 and/or go to jail for up to 1 year.  If the stalker is convicted of violating the order for a second time, he can be found guilty of a felony and have to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 and/or be put in jail for 1-3 years.*

    If the stalker has been served with the order and violates the order and causes physical injury to you or anyone else who is protected by the order, s/he can be guilty of a misdemeanor and sent to jail for anywhere from 20 days to 1 year and, additionally, be forced to pay a fine of up to $5,000.  If this is the stalker’s second conviction for violating the order and causing physical injury s/he could be guilty of a felony and can be put in jail for 1-5 years and/or be forced to pay between $3,000-$10,000.  A judge or jury will decide how much time the stalker should spend in jail based on how bad the injuries s/he caused were.*

    Protection Orders are not magic. There are things you have to do and be aware of.  If s/he violates a court order, the point is punishment. Get him locked up and put away so you can get back to your life.

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    Stalking Laws in Oklahoma

    21 Okl. St. § 1173. Stalking-Penalties. (2000)
    1. Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person in a manner that:
      1. Would cause a reasonable person or a member of the immediate family of that person as defined in subsection F of this section to feel frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested; and
      2. Actually causes the person being followed or harassed to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested,
    upon conviction, shall be guilty of the crime of stalking, which is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.
    1. Any person who violates the provisions of subsection A of this section when:
    1.      There is a permanent or temporary restraining order, a protective order, an emergency ex parte protective order, or an injunction in effect prohibiting the behavior described in subsection A of this section against the same party, when the person violating the provisions of subsection A of this section has actual notice of the issuance of such order or injunction; or
    2.      Said person is on probation or parole, a condition of which prohibits the behavior described in subsection A of this section against the same party or under the conditions of a community or alternative punishment; or
    3.      Said person, within ten (10) years preceding the violation of subsection A of this section, completed the execution of sentence for a conviction of a crime involving the use or threat of violence against the same party, or against any member of the immediate family of such party,
    upon conviction, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term not exceeding five (5) years or by a fine of not more than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($ 2,500.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.
    1. Any person who commits a second act of stalking within ten (10) years of the completion of sentence for a prior conviction under subsection A of this section, upon conviction thereof, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term not exceeding five (5) years, or by a fine of not more than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($ 2,500.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.
    2. Any person who commits an act of stalking within ten (10) years of the completion of execution of sentence for a prior conviction under subsection B or C of this section, shall, upon conviction thereof, be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not less than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($ 2,500.00) nor more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($ 10,000.00), or by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term not exceeding ten (10) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
    3. Evidence that the defendant continued to engage in a course of conduct involving repeated unconsented contact, as defined in subsection F of this section, with the victim after having been requested by the victim to discontinue the same or any other form of unconsented contact, and to refrain from any further unconsented contact with the victim, shall give rise to a rebuttable presumption that the continuation of the course of conduct caused the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
    4. For purposes of this section:
    1.      ”Harasses” means a pattern or course of conduct directed toward another individual that includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact, that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, and that actually causes emotional distress to the victim. Harassment shall include harassing or obscene phone calls as prohibited by Section 1172 of this title and conduct prohibited by Section 850 of this title. Harassment does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose;
    2.      ”Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of two (2) or more separate acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of “course of conduct”;
    3.      ”Emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily require, medical or other professional treatment or counseling;
    4.      ”Unconsented contact” means any contact with another individual that is initiated or continued without the consent of the individual, or in disregard of that individual’s expressed desire that the contact be avoided or discontinued. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of unconsented contact. Unconsented contact includes but is not limited to any of the following:
    1.      following or appearing within the sight of that individual,
    2.      approaching or confronting that individual in a public place or on private property,
    3.      appearing at the workplace or residence of that individual,
    4.      entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or
    occupied by that individual,
    5.      contacting that individual by telephone,
    6.      sending mail or electronic communications to that individual, and
    7.      placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property
    owned, leased, or occupied by that individual; and
    5.      ”Member of the immediate family”, for the purposes of this section, means any spouse, parent, child, person related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity or any other person who regularly resides in the household or who regularly resided in the household within the prior six (6) months.
    (Personal Note: Yes, this is straight out of the Law books. This is what stalking is and what will happen to the person who is stalking you. If you are having a problem, contact someone for help.)

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