Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Quick and Easy Ways to Change Your Appearance as a Woman

Changing your appearance during surveillance is a great way to throw off your suspect and avoid their suspicions of being followed. Subtle changes are often enough to trick the human mind into being uncertain of whether or not they have seen someone before. Often it is easier for a woman to change her appearance than it is for a man and we tend to have more options available than just changing our shirt or jacket or putting on a hat. Combine your options to get a drastic transformation instantly.
  1. Change your hairstyle. Try not to put too much effort into fixing your hair before going out on surveillance. Keep your hairstyle simple and nondescript while making sure it fits into the area where you are working. If you will be following your suspect to the gym, start out with your hair down straight and carry a pony tail holder. Don't put hairspray in your hair that morning. Use barrettes or head bands instead. When your suspect goes into the gym, then take a moment to put your hair up into a pony tail or bun and head inside for a tour of the facilities to see what your suspect is doing.
  2. Put on or take off make-up. It's amazing how much different most women look with make-up on. If you wear it daily, keep make-up remover wipes in your surveillance vehicle at all times. If you think your suspect may have seen you, clean your face and remove the make-up. Likewise, if you never wear make-up, keep a little in your car and put it on for a drastic change in your appearance as needed. Usually all you need is foundation and mascara but it never hurts to add eye-shadow and lipstick if you have time. Just avoid using bright colors or any shade that stands out against your skin tone too much.
  3. Add or remove clothing layers. Wear a tank top underneath your shirt that coordinates with your main outfit and the backup shirt you have ready for a quick wardrobe change. This gives you the benefit of having 3 shirts ready and the ability to achieve multiple looks. You can hide the tank top completely or use it as an accent piece. Scarves, belts, gloves and costume jewelry add equal value to wardrobe changes.
  4. Change your accessories. Ideally your surveillance day starts with a small pair of barely-noticeable earrings or no earrings at all, no bangles, bracelets or necklaces. Keep a large, gaudy pair of earrings and some matching chunky bead jewelry in your surveillance vehicle and change into them as needed. Always have another pair of sunglasses on hand, preferably a different style than those you wear most often. These tend to cause people to notice your jewelry more than your face, thus limiting the chance they will look you in the eyes or recognize you from earlier.
  5. Put on a skirt or dress. Since typically you sit in your surveillance vehicle in comfortable clothing, changing into something entirely different is little challenge. If you wear sweat pants in the winter, keep a long, black, casual skirt in the vehicle and slip it on over your sweats for a quick change. In the summer if you're wearing a dress to beat the heat, keep a pair of pants with you simply tuck your dress into the pants and throw a shirt on over it when possible. Alternately, if you're wearing pants, put on the dress and slip the pants off.
  6. Ditch your purse. Get a small wallet to keep in your purse with your surveillance licenses in it and some cash. Whenever you follow your suspect, place the wallet in your pocket or hand-carry it and avoid being seen with that stylish handbag you love. If you follow the suspect somewhere that having a wallet becomes an issue, grab the cash and stuff it in your pocket. Ideally, avoid carrying a credit card to avoid anyone seeing your name should you need to pay for a purchase.
  7. Change your shoes. Keep in mind the outfit you have on and take along a second pair of completely different shoes for a change in looks. Swapping tennis shoes for heels while wearing jeans adds height and a slimmer appearance to your instant make over. Likewise, swapping heels for flats shortens and softens your overall look. That gym-ready, yoga pants look easily becomes teen casual by changing to flip flops.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

Know your enemy. There are two basic types of threatening individuals who are after your information. Most only have to worry about one but is equally important to prepare yourself in case the second strikes. The first type of threat is the hacker you hear about on the news. The kind of criminal who does not care who you are and targets businesses where they can steal massive amounts of information or phishes internet users to obtain their passwords.

The second is an individual who has specifically targeted you for one reason or another. This person may appear as a troll when they post random rude comments or pick arguments with you online. They are often trying to bait you into providing information. Sometimes this person never reveals themselves to you and only follows you on social networking sites gleaning information that you post until they have what they are looking for. This type of attacker has many of the same qualities as a stalker and will be as patient as necessary to obtain the information they seek. You can protect yourself from both of these individuals using a few techniques and remembering some of the stranger danger tips your mother gave you.

  1. Keep your virus, anti-malware and any other protective software you have on the computer up-to-date. There are very good free versions of each type of security software available online and though no software is perfect they will significantly reduce the number of threats you face. Set them up to scan at a time when you won't be using the computer and you will never need to feel like your performance suffers or that the software is in your way.
    Never give full trust to anyone when it comes to your computer or online accounts. This means that in addition to keeping your passwords protected, if a friend wants to use your computer then you should set up a guest account for them to login to. Do not give the account administrative privileges or the rights to install software. It's your computer, they do not need to download and store their information on it, nor do they need access to your account.
  2. Don't use pirated software. Pirated software is "cracked" and that means someone put in some information to make it work without the legal password. So the software has been altered. That means they could have put in any kind of other malware or spy software that they wanted to and could be using it as a backdoor to gain access to your information or your computer. Only purchase software from trusted vendors. If you really need it, it is worth paying for.
  3. Use separate accounts for your personal life and professional life. Each should have its own email address and different social networks. Your personal social networking has no place in your professional life. All of your coworkers should not be on your social networking sites with your family. This could cause problems for your work life as well as make it easy for an attacker to find people who are willing to share more information about you without you ever knowing about it.
  4. Always include some random character in your passwords. Numbers are good, but characters are used less often and make it even harder to figure out. It's best not to use any real words at all in your passwords but if you must use them, then try something like this: "cr!baby" instead of crybaby or "cr&zy" instead of crazy. Just that one character will throw off a random troll and make it more difficult for a password cracker program to figure out as well. For even more protection, don't use the same symbol in all of your passwords. If you have a secure location to store passwords, use a password generator website to create something completely unique.
  5. Use the privacy settings available to you in every account you have online. Professional institutions such as banks will likely have protection measures and extra security in place. When visiting these sites the address bar should always say "https" at the beginning. Never enter your banking, PayPal or bill passwords into a site that does not start with "https." On other sites, especially social sites, you will need to set up your privacy levels on your own. Use the settings to limit the information you share as much as possible. Set up limits so that your birthday, address, email or phone number is not shared publicly. If it's not necessary to put that information into the site, then don't add it to the account at all.
  6. Never click a random link from an email saying you need to login to your account. If your bank or other business needs you to fix something on your account (except for password resets that you requested) then the information will be inside of your account no matter how you login. Visit the site by typing it in yourself or from the bookmark you saved earlier, or you can call them if you prefer. This eliminates any doubt as to where you are logging in to. Just like mom always said - if you don't initiate the contact, don't give out the secure information.
  7. Don't add strangers to your social networking sites. Even though it seems innocent and harmless, you are going to give out information to these strangers about your personal life at some point in time without even realizing it. Even the smallest information, including "Yay! The Wildcat's won the playoff!" can be too much information to share with the wrong person. That statement lets others know what type of sport and what team you like but could lead them to your personal attachment to an education institution or the fact you are unavailable or occupied during games. Just like mom always said - Don't talk to strangers!
  8. Never feed a troll. A troll is an individual who makes rude comments to you repeatedly just for the purpose of upsetting you in some way. No good will ever come from it and you may wind up revealing seemingly harmless information that they, or someone else, could use against you. It is unlikely you will remember to go back and delete these conversations later if posted publicly and over email you are allowing them to have some level of control over you and your life which feeds into their addiction. If you don't interact, they will become bored and move on.
  9. Do not open unexpected attachments from strangers in your email account. Software can be installed on your computer without you ever knowing it was included with the attachment. This software can then be used to gain access to your computer, copy down every letter you type on the keyboard (which gives someone you usernames and passwords) and record other information. It has even been used to locate pictures on your computer that the attacker may want to use.

Recommended Reading:
Schneier on Security: Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

Your Anonymity and Information Sharing

The one thing that ruins our anonymity is our need and desire to be able to find things again. Think about the last time you needed to get something off your chest. Where did you release this tension? If you wrote (using your hand and a pen) in a personal journal then you placed this information into a written form where you would be able to look back at it later. If you wrote a status message on a social networking account you shared it with friends who could look back and laugh about your outburst. Maybe you emailed a friend who you knew could give you emotional support. Perhaps you typed it up in a journal you keep on your computer.

All of these things have now destroyed your anonymity. As highlighted in many movies around the world a personal journal can be found or even sought after by prying eyes. Brought to light by recent news reports we now know that every status message you place on Facebook is kept indefinitely and could be shared with law enforcement without your knowledge.

If you took the email method then you have lost all hope of anonymity. Even if your friend is the only one with access to her email you have still unknowingly shared the contents of the email with several email servers (which store information) and legally you have no right to the expectation of privacy for the document. The email was tagged with uniquely identifying information from your computer and again tagged with information from each server it crossed and once it arrived at your friends email it was tagged again. That is a lot of information you never intended to share with entire companies - right?

If you saved the journal entry on your computer it is tagged with information as well. Some of the information includes the time and date of the document. If you investigate further into your computer directory, you can see that it also gets tagged with the user who was logged onto the computer and information from the program to identify you. So if you logged into a program it will have your username for the program stored in the file. Word processing programs may include your "author" name and any other information you have in the program that is meant to identify you professionally.

Once you enter the online world (other than email), your anonymity is further compromised. The moment you click "sign in" or you open up your web browser, you are sharing your personal information with your internet service provider (ISP) and possibly the site that you are visiting.
Your ISP records information from your computer to identify you and recognize you as a paying customer. Many websites also track where customers are coming from (city, state, and more) for marketing and advertising purposes. Though most of this is not malicious, you are still unknowingly sharing information with the company hosting the website. If they have analytic programs installed you could also be sharing it with a third party company.

The amount of information you share online is endless. Most of it you won't ever realize you are sharing or even think about. Companies frequently record chat sessions, status updates, tweets, internet account information and location information. Your information is constantly being harvested. So while the person you sent the email to may not look to see who your internet service provider is when they read the email, you better believe that someone out there somewhere is checking. They use this information to customize ads to you and so they get as specific as the law will allow - or as specific as they believe they can get away with.

If you made a phone call or sent a text message, you are not anonymous either. Both are recorded and tagged as coming from your specific phone -- often logged by data and unique numbers inside the individual telephonic device -- as well as identifying information from the cell tower it was picked up by which includes location information. The list of electronic gadgets that give you an illusion of being anonymous yet actually reveal more information about you than you would ever give a stranger keeps on growing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tips for Conducting Surveillance in Rural West Virginia

Rural West Virginians are generally distrusting of strangers. This comes in part from the parental lessons teaching them to avoid strangers, the level of economic distress in remote and no longer industrialized mining towns and from the staunch beliefs in the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. People generally have a heightened sense of awareness for their neighborhood and city and are ready to protect it against any and all threats.

Everybody Knows Everybody: This mentality is prevalent in small towns. The smaller the town, the more close the community is. Everyone is either related or friends and they smile, waive and make small talk whenever they see each other. It only takes seconds for them to realize you and your vehicle are not from there. While you cannot completely overcome this particular problem, you can at least pretend to be related to someone in the community if you absolutely must speak to locals. Select a generic name and point vaguely in the direction of their home. In all likelihood, there will be someone over that direction with that name and no one will question you much further.

Do not select a name like "John Boy," "Billy Bob," or anything else remotely reminiscent of the Hicksploitation seen on television. Real rural Appalachian people do not use these names and could be significantly offended by what they may feel is your reference to them being stupid or less than the rest of American society. Likewise, it is unlikely you will find a rural West Virginian named Mikayla or Chantelle. Stick with classic names like Julie, John, Heather or Bill.

Never Underestimate a Good Ol' Boy: Since you know all of his friends and family live close by, it is safe to assume that if he wants to play a game with you he can. He and his friends can lead you on a game of cat and mouse, changing vehicles and randomly parking one from time to time to try and throw you off. They could even gang up on you as a scare tactic and all come and box you in somewhere. They may find these kind of games fun and get a good laugh at your expense. Granted, you are getting paid to be there, so you do not want to wind up in any kind of real trouble when they take you down a side road and get you lost -- or worse.

Dressing the Part: Rural West Virginians only dress up in business wear or formal wear if they are on their way somewhere that requires it. Going to the office rarely does and there's not a lot of shindigs during typical surveillance hours. So jeans and a worn but not tattered T-shirt are your safest bet on clothing. Even collared T-shirts are not that common and should be avoided. While you will see the occasional button up shirt and tie, most of the workers are laborers or service personnel who will not wear their good clothes to work.

Equally as important, avoid torn, ripped or clothing that is heavily soiled. While they may not be wearing the latest designer duds, you will not find a rural West Virginian walking around town, shopping or even visiting friends while looking like a beggar.

Your Vehicle: Do not wash your car right before you do a job in rural West Virginia. Road dirt is a factor of life and many of the towns do not own/employ daily street sweepers. Most of the vehicles are taken off road or routinely travel down dirt or gravel driveways, especially in mountainous areas. This means a street sweeper would be a waste of money and taxpayers often do not even consider footing the bill for it. So leave your well-traveled vehicle just as it is, no matter how bad the dust looks or how many trails you have on the window from water running down them.

Driving: Never travel on roads beyond "End State Maintenance" signs. Even if you have an SUV and think you know how bad some rural mountain roads can be, your safety could be at serious risk on these roads. It is common to find boulders blocking the road, washed out patches, and deep drop-offs with no guardrails of any kind. Your GPS and cell phone are unlikely to work and you can easily become lost. If anything happens to you on these roads there will be no one around to know to look for you and if you may have difficulty walking back out to civilization.

Parking: Never allow yourself to be boxed in or trapped. Always survey your parking location and know the exits to and from the roads around you. If you must park in a position that only allows your vehicle to move one direction (like a parking space), back in. Do not park in a lot where there is only one narrow entrance, regardless of how many trees would conceal you from view. Always leave yourself a vantage point for a quick escape.

Parking in your suspects neighborhood may also be a bad idea in most cases. In the most rural areas of West Virginia, it will not even be possible and finding a place to set up within 1 mile of the suspect might prove impossible as well. For the small cities and mining towns, even if a direct position is available, it is best to avoid it completely. Sitting too close to the friends and family of your suspect is the easiest way to get noticed. Remember, they will know you are not from there and you will not see them call your suspect and let them know you are there. People talk in every society and a strange car outside could quickly become hot gossip. Look for a parking spot away from all houses. Then most people will not bother with you as they may think you are some random person hunting or fishing off the side of the road.

Bring a Book: Odds are there will be many places where your cell phone, laptop, and internet connections will not work. The metal inside of mountains makes keeping a fair signal complicated. It is important not to rely on your cell phone for entertainment during surveillance. Many times cranking your car to recharge your portable electronic devices alerts others to your presence and thus a book is the safest option. While you may be in the mountains and not parked near anyone, it is inevitable that sooner or later you will forget to turn off your headlights or bump the switch and turn something on that gives away your place inside the vehicle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Face of a Terrorist

Could You Pick a Terrorist Out of the Crowd?

It has been over 10 years since 9/11 in the U.S. and 26/11 in India. These are two of the most noted terrorist attacks of my time and after each one I saw the same thing happening. After 9/11, Americans jumped at the chance to spot and punish those they felt looked like a terrorist. Unfortunately, this caused a significant amount of unwarranted attacks on law-abiding citizens and immigrants. After 26/11, the same occurred in India. To me, this indicates that people somehow think they know what a terrorist looks like. It's unfortunate, because though we would think those who look similar to Osama Bin Laden are terrorist, this is often not the case.

Last year while traveling in Delhi, a major Indian city, I encountered a terrorist without even realizing it. It happened while I was in a major shopping and tourist district. There were individuals from many countries in the district, some carrying backpacks, some wearing turbans, others wearing sari's or jeans. It was no different than any other day in just about any other Indian city. I met a woman from New Zealand on the road that night, I got ran over by a man on a scooter and I watched as a drunk man walked down the street talking to every foreigner he met.

I left the shopping district around 10 p.m. and stopped at one of the local restaurants just outside of it then returned to my hotel room. There I turned on the TV to see live news reports coming in from the shopping district I was just at. At around 9:30 p.m., police had thwarted terrorist who were there to create some kind of event. They never got to complete their task thankfully, but I was startled by this. I had been there, I had walked in the place the terrorists were arrested, literally less than 20 feet away from the spot, and what struck me the most was that no one seemed out of place.

There were no men dressed in combat gear. There were no men dressed up like the terrorist we see on the news. No one had a hardened or mean looking face. They were all just people. Sure, some stood out as being foreign or being backpackers, but this is the only discernment anyone could make. Even the backpackers were not carrying packs that were the typical type seen on the news that were used by bombers. Yet somehow, there was a rather large group of terrorists there, walking alongside the crowd.

If you Google the question "What does a terrorist look like?" you may be surprised at just how many people are asking. Major news agencies have devoted precious printing space to answer reader questions, but is it enough? Of course, in some situations there will be noticeably strange behavior by some individuals that we can relate to terrorism, but in many others there will be none. There will be cases where the terrorist simply doesn't interact or makes his move while an area is vacant so as to avoid detection when the event takes place.

The two events I mentioned earlier have caused an unfortunate amount of skepticism to be placed on Muslim looking individuals (I say Muslim looking because that same attention is also given to other religions and cultures in many cases because not everyone can tell the difference between them.) Some skepticism is also placed on brown-skinned individuals as well when there are countries with near white, yellowish, and black skin colors who have a sizable Muslim population as well. Very little attention seems to be given to non-Muslim extremist groups, either by the media or the general public.

There are hundreds of legally recognized terrorist organizations that haven't shown to be as active threats at this time. You should consider that many people didn't know or care what a Muslim was until 9/11 and by then it was too late for thousands of people.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Taking Private Investigations Too Far

As an avid investigator, I often get suspicious looks from friends, and occasionally they ask if I'm investigating them. I think sometimes it's easy for friends and family to get a little concerned you may be paying too much attention to what they are doing and we all have things we don't want the world to know about. From a personal standpoint, I must say that I do notice most things but not because I'm investigating. I notice them simply because that is how I am trained to be and how my mind works. I never purposely investigate any of my friends or family members for many reasons. It's too personal. I don't want to know their secrets, because it puts you in a position of secrecy with other family members which can ultimately destroy relationships.

That being said, there are private investigators who take their work too far. While I can somewhat understand their reasoning, I still believe their moral values should hold them back at least occasionally.

As an example, I read several private investigation blogs, and this morning I stumbled upon one that recommended retailers investigate their employees, the employee's spouse and children "if warranted." Now I can't image a situation that would warrant investigating or doing background checks on children. Yes, kids steal, especially before they are old enough to know better. However, I feel like investigations of an employees' family members is a complete violation of privacy rights. The family members are not under contract with the company, they have no reason to expect that they will have their personal lives penetrated by the company. Therefore they do have a reasonable right to the expectation of privacy (under U.S. laws) in this situation, and an investigation would be a violation of their rights.

Not only that but it would be immoral for a store to investigate a potential employees family members and then deny employment because their teenage son had made the mistake of shoplifting or had ever taken something from a friend or neighbor and been charged. Kids make stupid mistakes, but this doesn't mean their parents should be punished and income potential taken from them. Not only that, but what if the employees spouse had a history that they hadn't told them about. I personally don't keep secrets from my spouse, but there are couples out there who live by the standard that what happened in the past is the past and they don't discuss it. Does this mean they should be denied a job because their spouse made a stupid mistake as a kid and stole something from the mall? I don't believe it does.

Now before you bring up the argument that juvenile records are sealed in the U.S., you should know that private investigators and certain other law enforcement personnel can still access the records. It's a privilege granted under the law to enable them to do their jobs more effectively. In many situations they do need to know about juvenile records and those records are quite relevant to other cases, so sealed or not, they can be viewed -- just not by the general public.

What are your thoughts on this? Do companies have the right to investigate (or run background checks) on an employee or potential employees' family members? What about children? Should private investigations be done on children who have no ties to the retail organization?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Trace Evidence: Proof of Our Everyday Interactions

Trace evidence is the term applied to evidence left behind when an interaction between the perpetrator of a crime and the crime scene. Often this type of evidence is not seen with the naked eye or is not the first thing noticed about the crime scene. Types of trace evidence include:
  • Fingerprints on a door frame
  • Saliva on the rim of a drinking glass
  • Strands of hair on a victims' clothing
  • Gun residue on the criminals' hands
  • Skin cells on lipstick
  • A strand of thread on a broken piece of glass.
Collecting trace evidence requires the investigator to examine the evidence with close scrutiny and often involves the use of a microscope. Depending on the type of evidence the investigator suspects to be present, they may also spray the surface with chemicals or use other extraction processes to reveal the evidence.

One extraction process that you commonly see on popular crime shows is the use of superglue fumes to reveal latent fingerprints. The fumes react to oils that are commonly on our skin and particles from the fumes bond to the oil and form a fingerprint. Another common method of collecting fingerprints is dusting with powder. Once the fingerprint is revealed, it is collected using special adhesive tape that allows the print to be preserved rather than damaged or destroyed during the collection process.

One of the most popular methods of revealing trace evidence that isn't seen by the naked eye is to spray an area with a Chemiluminescent substance, such as Luminol. The Chemiluminescent substance reacts with the hemoglobin in the blood and produces a distinct glow when viewed in the correct lighting conditions. This requires complete darkness in the room and the blood will not glow for long. The hemoglobin in the blood cannot be cleaned off with ordinary household cleaning products.

Trace evidence collection is achieved through the use of special vacuum equipment, cotton swabs and tweezers among other methods. In the lab evidence is examined through the use of special microscope equipment. This equipment reveals finer particles of evidence as well as specifics about the evidence. Through the use of microscopes, thin layer chromatography and infrared spectroscopy procedures examiners can determine the thread count of fabric, the size and color of a grain of powder and reveal clues as to the type of animal a strand of hair came from. There are kits available on the market to let you try your hand at finding trace evidence. A CSI Crime Scene Investigation Kit would be wonderful for your next crime solving party or just to test your skills as an aspiring forensic examiner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Understanding Slack Space

To understand slack space you must first understand how a computer manages files. This is quite simple. When you create a file, such as a word document, your computer assigns it a place in the File Allocation Table (FAT), creates a directory entry and saves the file to a cluster on the hard drive. For now we will call the file "forensics.docx" and we are going to pretend the document was 3 pages long with approximately 900 words and 7100 characters. (Characters include each letter of a word and the spaces in between. They are basically each stroke of the keyboard that is recorded by the computer.)

To further simplify that it basically files the document away using the computers storage system. The equivalent of that in the real world is the same as a doctor's office labeling a manila folder with your name and a unique identifying number (this is like using the FAT on a computer) so they can find you easier when you return and then placing that file into their records room (this is like the hard drive). The directory in an office setting is the nurse's knowledge of the offices record keeping. For example, they may assign all the patients by birth date and an initial for their last name resulting in a number such as 19841201B. On a computer you would see the directory as something like "C://User/Documents/forensics.docx" while logged into your user account.

When you delete a document or send it to the recycle bin on newer Window's operating systems, the file is not actually deleted. The first letter of the file name is changed by the system and the FAT entry is voided to indicate that the file can be ignored. The document is still there in the same place, but it cannot be seen any longer because the computer is ignoring it.

Now you have a new document to save. Let's consider that you name the new document the exact same name as the original document. This forensics.docx is only two pages long and less than 600 words. The computer completes the same activities when you save it. However, it may not have saved the file in the exact same place as the original. (Going back to the doctor's office example, the files would not have the same birth date and therefore may not be in the same location.)

If by chance the computer does save the file to the exact same location, it would only save the new document over part of the old document because the new document is smaller and does not need as much space. This leaves the remaining 300+ words of space that the original document used still visible to forensic software. This additional space is called "slack space" and is one of the first places a computer forensics examiner would look.

Now, let's consider one more possibility. You want to make sure the document is deleted and that no evidence remains that you created it. So you open the document instead of using the delete button on your keyboard. You highlight all 900 words in the document and you press the backspace key. Then you paste in some other words and save the document using the original name. The document has changed, those words are no longer there and you think you've beaten the system. You haven't! Unless you replace all 900 words and 7100 characters, there will still be remnants of the old information still in your slack space.

Then there is also the possibility that once upon a time your computer shut down while you were working on the document and there is an auto save copy on the hard drive you didn't know existed. If you printed it, there is the copy of the file that was spooled for printing still on the hard drive. Your best option -- don't save incriminating documents on your hard drive in the first place. Electronic evidence is often harder to dispute than real life evidence in a court of law.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Legal Considerations for Moving Abroad

It's known but rarely thought of that the laws in other countries will be different from those of your home country. Much to the dismay of immigrants the world over, they arrive and live in the new country for long periods of time only to find out something that was common in their own culture will get them arrested, their children taken away or worse in their new country. A 2012 article spawned a significant debate among the immigrant and expat communities that highlights just how drastic some of the legal differences can be.

If you haven't seen it, the article is told from the perspective of two Indian parents who had their children taken away from them while they were living in Norway. In the article the parents mention that they were taken because the children were being hand fed and slept in the parent's bed. While I attempt to make no determination of their guilt or innocence, this highlighted a very real threat faced by individuals and parents who move abroad.

In this particular instance, let's first discuss the law in Norway. Under the Children Act: Chapter 5 Parental responsibility and where the child shall live permanently. Section 30 Meaning of parental responsibility. The child is entitled to care and consideration from those who have parental responsibility. These persons have the right and the duty to make decisions for the child in personal matters within the limits set by sections 31 and 33. Parental responsibility shall be exercised on the basis of the child's interests and needs.

Those who have parental responsibility are under obligation to bring up and maintain the child properly. They shall ensure that the child receives an education according to his or her ability and aptitude.

The child must not be subjected to violence or in any other way be treated so as to harm or endanger his or her mental or physical health. This shall also apply when violence is carried out in connection with upbringing of the child. Use of violence and frightening or annoying behavior or other inconsiderate conduct toward the child is prohibited.

Regarding the right to make decisions on behalf of the child in financial matters, the provisions of Act No. 3 of 22 April 1927 on Guardianship shall apply.

And further, this passage comes directly from a brochure provided by the Welfare Association: "Parental responsibility involves an obligation to care for the child. Parents must give their children love, safety and attention, care. Child care also involves the important task of stimulating and social contact. Parents are prohibited by law from using any form of violence (including light smacks and slaps) in connection with upbringing. Nor shall children be subjected to frightening or annoying behaviour or other inconsiderate conduct."

Both apply to this case. If you consider the details about there being absolutely no harm to the child physically or mentally, it is possible someone could have legitimately felt that the children were in danger. As we all know too well that some individuals are very easily offended and overreact even in safe environments all because of their own misunderstanding.

The article mentions that the welfare association was calling the feeding of the children by hand "force feeding." I think this throws up a red flag on both sides of the argument. Since neither of the children in the pictures appear to be morbidly obese or even just obese for that matter, it stands to reason that this scenario is likely being overplayed. Yes, parents can force-feed children but the reality is that doesn't mean the child will eat it, swallow it, or keep it down. There was no eating disorders mentioned in any of the online articles revolving around this story. Children are notoriously picky when it comes to food and it's more likely that maybe the child didn't like a food, mom made him eat it anyway for the health benefits and someone wasn't happy that she did it and turned them in. I think most of us have had similar experiences with foods like broccoli or spinach and mom insisted we eat it no matter how bad it tasted to us.

Feeding with the hands would be an absurd reason to remove children from a home from a legal standpoint and there is no indication in Norway law that says it is illegal to feed children in this manner. After all, you don't need a spoon for french fries or other finger foods and playing airplane can be quite an effective technique to lure a picky eater into eating.

Co-sleeping has long been controversial in many countries. Yes, it has the potential to be dangerous, but it is also scientifically proven to benefit babies as well. So this keeps most countries from banning the practice. Not to mention many cultures still practice this as a means of survival. Not every culture in the world has standard indoor heating during the winter months and body heat is crucial to life during harsh months. Co-sleeping is also not mentioned in Norway law as being considered detrimental to children. In my research I was unable to find any reference to other cases of children being removed from the home for co-sleeping

In Indian culture, both of these practices are common, everyday practices. Children sleep with their parents well into their teen years due to the limited space, comfort it provides the child, cultural and for many other reasons. So it would not been out of character for these parents to feed their child with the hands or allow them to sleep in the same room. These same behaviors, though not as common, occur in most of the countries in the world -- including the U.S. and UK. What child hasn't had a nightmare and ran from their own room to mom and dads when they can?

Regardless of what is happening to this specific couple, there are other immigrants facing the same dilemmas. There is no excuse for not knowing the law, and I doubt any country includes a disclaimer for ignorance of the law. It is important to research and understand how moving to a new country will require changes in your normal behavior. This includes downloading torrents, swatting babies on their diaper, making children stand in the corner, slapping an unruly suitor and more. No one wants to land themselves in jail abroad.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top 10 Tips for How Not To Stand Out in the Crowd

Mobile surveillance is one of the most exciting parts of being a private investigator. You might be curious how to record evidence of a person while they are in a public place. Obviously you can't take your handy cam and follow them around but you can still follow them on foot and get some great footage using covert cameras. I won't get into these in this post but I will address some ways to watch your suspect/claimant while in plain sight without being burned.

Make sure you test your covert camera before you go on surveillance for the day. Make sure the camera fits the scene you're going to. You wouldn't want to take a cell phone into a gym and expect to get good video. It will stand out whereas an iPod or watch would not.

  1. Dress for the place you're going to be. I wouldn't walk around downtown D.C. in redneck camouflage for example. Do a little research if you're not familiar with the town and you'll have a good idea of how to dress. 
  2. Avoid wearing bright colors or trigger colors. Trigger colors are things like red, purple and yellow. While they can be common, they also tend to stand out more to people than colors like black, blue, white or dark green. 
  3. Stay with the crowd if there is one. One lone man sticks out much more than a crowd of people. If you can make it work without arousing suspicion, walk close enough to someone that it looks like you're with them. If you must walk alone, break out your cell phone and look like you're texting or making a phone call. These behaviors are ones that people tend not to want to watch. 
  4. Avoid physical contact with anyone. You don't want to accidentally bump into someone, have to say excuse me and risk your suspect/claimant hearing your voice and noticing you. So be careful of where you're walking. 
  5. In stores, stand just behind the shelves. Most of the time there is a gap you can see through and watch your suspect and no one will notice you. If anyone else walks by, pretend you're looking at whatever is on the shelf in front of you. It's sometimes helpful to hold an item in your hand and angle it so it looks like you're reading it when you're really watching your covert camera. 
  6. Walk at least 1 aisle away from your suspect/claimant when in the stores. They're not watching the gaps in the aisles to see if someone else is there, they're on a mission to find their products. Use that to your advantage and follow them without being in sight. 
  7. Keep your head up (unless pretending to text or look at products) and be confident that you know where you're going - even if you don't. You'll draw more attention if you look lost. Walk straight and at a steady pace. If you're at risk of losing your suspect/claimant, then speed up your walk only when you're not in the crowd. Trying to run over the crowd and get through them will get you noticed but walking fast while alone is completely normal. 
  8. Look in the direction of your suspect/claimant but never directly at their face. Making eye contact is one of the worst things you can do so try to look just behind them or beside them. If they look at you, shift your eyes as if they're in your way and you're trying to look around them. That will take the focus off of them suspecting you're watching them.
  9. Change your clothes between stops. If you follow someone to more than one store, change your clothes in between. If they saw you at the last store, they won't recognize you in a different outfit. If you're a girl, you can also put your hair up or take it down to really throw them off your trail. 
  10. Keep your emotions at bay. If something funny happens, laugh on the inside and only smile on the outside. It's best to laugh without sound if you can. Just don't let your voice stand out. If you stump your toe, hold it in. Making any noise could get you too much attention from your suspect/claimant.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Searching Court Records

I first got interested in becoming a private investigator years ago. I'm not sure exactly what led me to think this was the job for me but I know I was spending a considerable amount of time researching my families genealogy and as such, countless hours in courthouse record rooms.

Here in Virginia there are several types of records rooms. Each court is different. some have open access rooms in which you just walk in and never encounter a worker unless you want to. Others have rooms you must bypass the counter so they know you're there. A few I've been too had the books behind glass windows and you had to know what you were looking for and ask for it specifically.

Regardless of how you get to the indexes and records, there are many common elements in what you will find while searching.

Always start with the indexes. Not just one because then you'll be missing half of the information. Start with the index that has information you're certain about first. So if you were looking to find out who John Doe married in 1974, then you would pick up the index for grooms starting with the letter "D" and covering the year mentioned. Most indexes cover a span of several years.

As you go through the index, you'll notice the headings on the pages are listed 'Da-De' or in some similar fashion. Find the section that covers 'Do' and then scan all the listings. The list on the page will not be alphabetical but is listed by date. So if the page started in 1965, scan the date column until you find 1974.

It's important that if you don't find John Do in 1974 that you search subsequent years. Typos are a fact of human life and maybe he got married in 1973 or 1975. If I were searching and I didn't find him in the right year, I would scan the entire page by name. It takes only a few seconds and could produce the information you are looking for.

Once you find John Doe, make note of the line number his name is listed on. Most indexes span 2 pages and they are not always lined up perfectly. Then slide your finger along the line until you reach the end of that page. Where the book creases, look for the same line number on the second part of the page and continue sliding your finger along that line to see the rest of his information.

Typically in marriage registers you can find the names of the grooms and brides parents, birth dates, city and/or state of birth and age at time of marriage. Sometimes the officiating minister is also listed. Write all the information you find down in your notebook. Even the tiniest piece of data could be useful. Maybe the happy couple still attends the same church and you can find bulletins detailing more information of their lives.

When it comes to deeds you can find when the land was bought and sold and for how much. There should also be a plot number listed. When you have a plot number, you can look in the plat books. These are massive books, so be prepared for some heavy lifting if you need to see the boundaries of a property. Actually, most courthouse books are heavy but these are extra heavy and bulky.

Pay close attention to who bought and sold the land or how it was awarded. This could lead you to a will if the property changed hands from relative to relative. Or there could be evidence of laundering - hiding assets without losing them - via transference to a spouse or relative. These documents could also show that your suspect has more disposable income than they report to have. Deeds almost always list a lien holder if there is one. If there's not, then your suspect paid in full at the time of sale.

This isn't always a red flag. If he purchased the property from a government auction or foreclosure sale, financing may not have been an option or the price may have been low enough he could get it cheap. The answers are all in the details.

Why would you need to know this? There's a variety of reasons. Knowing how a plat is laid out could benefit you if you're going into a rural area for a case. On large plats of land there are likely to be multiple exits. So, you would want to drive around the area and look for all possible exits. If the plat is large, you can determine just how far you need to go and how feasible it is.

Criminal records obviously point to whether or not your suspect has a criminal record. These are a no-brainer. While you're in the room with the criminal records, be sure to check both civil indexes and chancery. These include divorce records, restraining orders and many other complaints that may or may not result in punishment and fines. They also include valuable address information many times and can lead you to validate social connections.

Last but not least, always check the Wills indexes. They may not seem very useful but can lead you to important clues as to property owned by the suspect, as in guns his grandfather may have left him that aren't registered, and family connections.

Often you can find most of these records online and you won't even need to go to the courthouse. Virginia has a healthy online system of records for many of the court systems. It includes criminal, civil, general district, traffic and appeals cases. For wills and chancery you still have to go to the courthouse. Plats can be found at the link below.

Virginia Courts Online Case Information
Virginia GIS Sites

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crowdsourcing in the Criminal World, AKA Crimesourcing

We've all seen them, ads looking for workers to complete odd tasks that we can't imagine why anyone would want them done. Or ads we know they want desperate workers for because no one in their right mind would do all that work. Here is one example:
This job is SUPER EASY - all you have to do is post on youtube and pass the captcha, i will supply words to copy paste. Because of this, i can offer .25 per hour -- 25 cents per hour Almost anyone can do this but i expect you to work for the hour and post the whole time. Write back YOUTUBE in the subject line so i know you have read this.
When we read ads like that, we notice so many things wrong. A first thought may be to question why someone would need a bunch of YouTube captcha's passed. The second would be the astonishingly low rate being offered. With the federal minimum wage in the U.S. being $7.25 an hour, it stands to reason this ad is not targeting U.S. citizen workers. That same .25 cents translates into some fairly good wages in many other countries and all the worker has to do is read and type.

Looking at this job ad from a criminal justice perspective tells us even more. They are seeking international workers to avoid breaking laws. International laws are vastly different in many countries and some don't even have laws related to the internet or illegal use of it yet. The second thought is that passing captcha is a requirement that is meant to ensure the poster is a real human being and not an automated system. To bypass it, someone must type it and the poster of this job has something else taking up his time and he wants these passed quickly. Something obviously is not legal or right.

Ads like this are a major part of what has now been coined crimesourcing. The principle is the same as crowd sourcing where jobs are divided up into small parts enabling the employer to contract more highly specialized services with less overall cost and complete the project faster in most cases. Each person working on a small task submits their work and the final project is completed by project managers. Crowdsourcing is a progression on older concepts such as home envelope stuffing, hiring freelancers and the like. As a modern concept, all of these avenues are exploited to avoid paying health care, benefits and more to staffed workers.

With crimesourcing this means that the small tasks, such as purchasing chemicals to make methamphetamines, may be purchased by some contractor looking to pick up some extra cash. The chemicals are not illegal, the contractor is already making a run to the store and picking up a few more vats of the chemical could net him an easy paycheck without any extra work. The chemicals are picked up, the contract has went well and no laws have been broken. For the criminal, the purchase of the chemicals cannot be tracked back to them or their address, so it lessens any suspicion that may come their way.

As for the captcha's mentioned above, the worker isn't breaking any laws that they know of. However, the captchas being bypassed allow the criminal access to user accounts and provide them an opportunity to gather information using software programs. These ads are frequently used by hackers or organized crime rings to keep the suspicion from coming back to them. Sites like YouTube track IP addresses when captcha is entered so they will not have a record of the actual criminal typing in these captcha codes.

Previously, criminals would not trust someone they don't know. However, in these cases, they don't need to trust the worker very much at all. They never meet the worker and the worker has no idea who they are. In addition to that, the worker doesn't know what the work is being used for and in most cases does not care or there are no legal worries because there are no international laws that will prosecute them. This all leaves law enforcement with a long electronic paper trail that leads them in too many different directions to follow.

The same concept works with recent flash mobs where workers are hired to show up at a set location wearing a specific outfit. Have you seen crimesourcing jobs posted online? Have you applied for any of them? What are some ways you think law enforcement can handle these situations?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Illinois Minors and Alcohol Laws

The State of Illinois strictly prohibits the possession, use and consumption of alcoholic beverages by individuals under the age of 21. Included in the possession law are provisions for individuals who obtain or possess illegal or invalid identification cards. The offender does not need to be driving or in public view to be found guilty under the possession laws.

Possession and Consumption

The state explicitly states that purchasing; accepting, distributing, delivering and consuming alcohol are considered possession under the current state code. The law also states it is prohibited to provide alcohol to minors, even under the supervision of a parent or guardian, under any circumstances or for any occasion. Further prohibited is defacing, altering, transferring or providing false information to obtain a state issued identification card. There are no provisions for medicinal alcohol use or private establishments.
235 Illinois Compiled Statute 5/6-20


Infractions under the Illinois possession law are considered class A misdemeanors. Class A misdemeanors carry the potential for several forms of punishment and the judge will determine the best course of action based on the individual case. When multiple infractions of the law are involved, the judge can sentence the offender to concurrent or consecutive sentences. Types of punishment include:
  • Incarceration - The juvenile can be sentenced to up to one year in a juvenile facility if under the age of 18 and in an adult incarceration facility if between the ages of 18 and 21.
  • Impact Incarceration - This boot camp style program aims at reshaping the offenders' behavior and providing them with the necessary discipline to avoid future incarceration. The offender must be found eligible for the program before sentencing.
  • Probation - The judge may order up to two years of probation for the offender along with conditions for the probation and discharge of the sentence.
  • Fines - The offender can be ordered to pay a fine up to $2500 in addition to the punishments listed above.
  • Restitution - Restitution includes returning property, including stolen alcohol, or paying for the goods taken, damages done to property as a result of the alcohol use and paying for the repairs that must be completed to personal property
  • Drug Court - If the judge determines that the offender has a problem with alcohol he may order a course of treatment through drug court. Treatment programs are tailored to the individual and include rehabilitation facilities, medical treatment and mandatory reporting and testing for further alcohol use.
  • Electronic Home Detention - Electronic monitoring restricts the offender from leaving their home residence. A monitoring unit is placed on the offenders' body and a monitoring unit is connected to the utilities in the home. If the monitoring device leaves the area an alarm will sound and police will be dispatched.
235 Illinois Compiled Statute 5/5-4.5-55 and 730 Illinois Compiled Statute 5; 166/20

Shortening the Sentence

In some instances, the offenders' sentence can be shortened by the following:
  • Home Detention - The offender may be eligible to receive credit for time spent in home detention before and during the trial
  • Good Conduct - The offender can receive one day of good behavior allowance for days served before the trial, during the trial and after sentencing if no violent offenses were committed along with the possession of alcohol or while serving the time.
235 Illinois Compiled Statute 5/5-4.5-55 and 730 Illinois Compiled Statute 5/5-4.5-100; 130

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Commercial Vacuum Products for Forensic Use

Commercial grade vacuum products can be used to simplify forensic tasks like collection of evidence and processing of evidence. Some vacuums are used in the field while others are used in the laboratory. There are a wide variety of vacuum products available for forensic use to suit the needs of any laboratory or collection need.
3M Trace Evidence Vacuum
The 3M Trace Evidence Vacuum is a toolbox style particle vacuum capable of suctioning evidence as small as 0.1 micron. Each filter nozzle is individually wrapped and cleanroom sealed and has its own collection bag. Each filter bag is only used once which also helps eliminate any chance of cross contamination.

VACUU-LAN Networked Vacuum
The VACCU-LAN is an integrated networked vacuum system allowing connection of multiple smaller diaphragm vacuums and easier relocation. The system operates like a central vacuum with multiple ports and is quieter and more cost efficient than having multiple machines. Using multiple ports can allow for collection of multiple sites of evidence at the same time, for example all areas of a vehicle could be vacuumed simultaneously.

PC3012 VARIO Self Adjusting Vacuum System
The PC3012 is a low noise, solvent vapor resistant diaphragm pump used for extracting evidence. The vacuum can evaporate up to 30% faster without fluctuations in vacuum strength. This system continually adapts pumping speed based on application conditions and has integrated solvent recovery as well as evaporation control for maximum efficiency.

TED Collection System
The TED vacuum collection system is designed for collecting trace evidence, DNA evidence, physical evidence and more. The system comes with attachments designed specifically for each type of evidence to be collected and evidence is deposited directly into vials for easier processing at the lab.

To learn more about Forencis practice protocols, check out this great resource!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Criminal Justice in America: Is it Time for Change?

Much like the separation of powers created by the Constitution among our three branches of government, our current criminal justice system consists of three separate branches, law enforcement, the court system and corrections. This is designed to prohibit any one branch from having too much power over the other two. When offenders are processed through the system they are first entered into the system by law enforcement, then they are judged by the courts and if necessary they are then sentenced and enter into the corrections system (Criminal-Justice-Careers.com, 2009). Each of the three branches has a specific role in the pursuit of criminal justice though all three work together to form one complete system. The three branches work together to maintain accountability to each other as well as to the public.

The role of law enforcement officers (LEO) is to ultimately protect the citizens in the community they serve and uphold the laws of that community (SafeRoutesInfo.org, n.d.). When a person chooses to break a law in their community then they could be arrested by a LEO whether they be from a local, state or federal agency (Criminal-Justice-Careers.com, 2009). The LEO informs the offender of their Miranda rights, fingerprints the offender, photographs and questions them (American Bar Association, n.d.a).

Before an offender is arrested a judge or magistrate must authorize an arrest warrant (American Bar Association, n.d.a). Once an offender is arrested and the law enforcement agency feels they have a strong case against the offender then they will take the case to trial. During this trial the offender may be judged by a jury of his/her peers or may have the law interpreted by a judge and a judge will ensure that attorneys for both sides follow the laws of our criminal justice system (Criminal-Justice-Careers.com, 2009). During the trial the offender has the chance to defend themselves against the charges and attempt to prove their innocence. The courts are designed to be an impartial system and not to be swayed by current political views, personal hunches, or any other type of bias that could inhibit the application of current laws to any case (American Bar Association, n.d.b). The court system is further divided into two separate systems, federal and state, and then again divided into different levels such as appellate, supreme, and trail courts with trial courts being the first court a case is tried in (American Bar Association, n.d.b).

After an offender has been found guilty at trial the judge will sentence them to some form of punishment which is carried out by the corrections branch (Criminal-Justice-Careers.com, 2009). Jail, prison, probation and parole are all examples of punishment a judge could sentence an offender to and all of these are managed by the corrections branch (Criminal-Justice-Careers.com, 2009). It is the duty of the corrections branch to supervise inmates, probationers and parolees as well as offenders who have not yet been sentenced (Manitoba Justice, n.d.). In some cases it is also the responsibility of the corrections branch to notify victims when an offender escapes, is released, or has completed their sentence (Manitoba Justice, n.d.).

Merging all three branches of the criminal justice system together could improve efficiency if the right processes and procedures were also implemented. In the beginning the costs of the merge may be substantial however in the long run it could decrease overall costs. If criminals were completely managed from arrest through the completion of their sentence by one agency there would be less potential for offenders to slip through any cracks. There would also be an increased potential for abuse of power. If the same agency was responsible for arrests and issuing warrants there would be too much potential to violate citizens' rights. There would also be increased potential to keep offenders in jail longer than they deserve because it would be easier to manipulate papers and documents and get a sentence extended. Many citizens already have difficulty trusting police officers because they feel that there is too much secrecy and that they have too much power to abuse or manipulate the laws they should be upholding (The Trauma Foundation, n.d.). If the courts and the corrections branch were also managed by the law enforcement agencies there would be even less public trust.

Developing and maintaining public trust in our criminal justice system is essential. By keeping the three branches of the criminal justice system separate, it helps to maintain a system of checks and balances between them. While there may never be complete trust in the criminal justice system, having the branches remain separate does help keep the public trust level higher. The police are held accountable by the court system which limits their ability to abuse their power. The court system helps ensure that the corrections system does not abuse its powers as well by setting limits on the length of punishment of offenders. While somewhat inefficient, separation of the branches is much more effective overall.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Forms of Punishment in the Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system is responsible for punishing offenders in a method effective enough to deter them from wanting to engage in further criminal activities. The severity of the crime and number of times the offender has been convicted of crimes generally dictate the form of punishment that the judge will sentence the convicted to. In some instances multiple types of punishment may be combined and handed down as part of one sentence.

Alternative Punishments
Alternative forms of punishments are tailored to the specific case and involve holding signs detailing the crime while standing in a conspicuous location, completing community service or participating in programs aimed at helping the convicted realize how their crime hurts themselves and society. These punishments are typically handed down to offenders committing misdemeanors and work as a deterrent to the community. Some individuals would argue these punishments focus more on humiliation of the criminal rather than punishment.

Intensive Supervision
Probation, parole, electronic monitoring and house arrest are restrictive forms of punishment typically handed out to criminals whose crimes were not severe, first time offenders, or in conjunction with incarceration to ensure the criminal does not continue to commit crimes. Probation and parole include restrictions on travel, work requirements and the offender must submit to routine check in and drug and alcohol testing. The convicted is monitored by the corrections system and if the offender commits any subsequent crimes they are incarcerated. Probationers and parolees are held accountable for their actions through restitution, fines and community service.

Incarceration includes jail for convicted criminals serving less than one year and prison systems for individuals serving more than one year consecutively for adults. The corrections system manages adult inmates for the duration of their stay for federal and state owned facilities. Some facilities are maintained by privatized corporations and contracts are obtained for prisoner upkeep. Incarceration severely limits interaction the inmate has with family and the community while seeking to promote rehabilitation to qualifying inmates. Rehabilitation while incarcerated includes education and learning programs and work training programs to enable the inmate to learn skills he can use once released to be a productive member of society.

For youth offenders incarceration includes boot camp programs and youth living facilities, often referred to as group homes. These facilities aim to retrain the youth and intervene so that continued criminal activity is deterred. Youth offenders are provided state structured education, taught valuable skills and given the opportunity to earn privileges. Youth are provided with structure and training that is often not provided in their home environments and rehabilitative efforts are made to provide the youth with life skills that will enable them to lead law abiding adult lives.

Rehabilitation is designed to help the prisoner gain a better understanding of how to function as a law abiding citizen while treating the underlying factor the caused the individual to commit the crime. Rehabilitation options include participation in alcohol and drug rehab programs or medical treatment programs. More states are creating special drug and alcohol courts specifically for the purpose of stringent rehabilitation of offenders rather than incarceration. These courts have been shown to reduce recidivism and fees associated with criminal punishment while benefiting the community and the offender.

Restitution & Fines
Restitution includes paying fines, repairing damaged property or donating time to the community or victims that have been damaged as a result of the crime. These punishments are typically afforded to criminals whose crime did not have a specific victim but rather damaged items that affect the community, business property or caused a financial loss to the victim without them incurring bodily or psychological harm. These types of crime are called victimless crimes. One example would be spray painting an overpass in which the criminal was ordered to pay for the clean up expenses. Restitution and fines are meant to be a method of reestablishing the criminals' rights as a member of the community.

Capital Punishment
The laws of the federal government and thirty-four states include provisions for capital punishment, also known as the death penalty. Capital punishment is reserved for offenders the justice system does not feel could be rehabilitated nor punished effectively for their crimes and safeguards such as required appeals are included to eliminate unnecessary use of execution methods. The safeguards also ensure that the convicted is afforded every opportunity to avoid the execution and that the judge does not unduly deliver the sentence.