Compensatory Damages Explained

Compensatory or actual damages?
Compensatory damages are also known as actual damages, as the plaintiff only gets what he has lost; nothing more than that.

In law, the term ‘damages’ refers to the money to be paid to a person as compensation for loss or injury. Damages are categorized into two types, (i) compensatory damages, wherein the plaintiff receives compensation for the loss incurred, and (ii) punitive damages, wherein the court seeks to punish the wrongdoer (defendant) for his negligence.

What are Compensatory Damages?
Going by the simplest definition, it is the amount of money awarded to the plaintiff as the amount ‘necessary’ to cover the loss that he has incurred because of another person’s breach of duty. In other words, it’s a compensation intended to make the victim ‘complete’ in monetary terms, or revert him back to the financial position at which he was before the incident. Let’s have a look at an example to make things clear.

If Mr. X gets injured in an accident for which Mr. Y is responsible and thus, has to go on a long leave, then Mr. Y is liable to pay him the amount of money that he will lose as a result of not being able to work in the form of compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages cover medical expenses, loss of income, loss of property, as well as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium. In these lawsuits, the onus is on the plaintiff to prove that he has suffered a loss that is compensable by a certain amount of money. Based on this, the judge will decide whether he should be awarded compensatory damages or not.

Special and General Damages
Compensatory damages are further categorized into two types: (i) special damages and (ii) general damages. Special damages include repair and/or replacement of the damaged property, medical expenses, wages lost as a result of loss of working days, loss of the capacity to work, etc. On the other hand, general damages include pain, suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium. The plaintiff can seek both, special damages and general damages.

In the above example, for instance, special damages will include the damages that cover Mr. X’s medical expenses, damage caused to the car, loss of earnings resulting from his inability to go to work for a specific period (or inability to work in the future), etc. In contrast, if Mr. X claims compensation for physical pain and mental anguish that he has had to suffer as a result of this accident, these will be considered general damages.

In the case of a breach of contract, special damages cover a broad range of losses, including loss of profits and damage to business reputation, while general damages cover contractual losses, such as the difference between market prices and contract prices. That might seem a little confusing, but going through the following examples of compensatory damages for breach of contract will help you get rid of your doubts.

If Mr. X buys a house from Mr. Y, only to realize that the house has plumbing problems which Mr. Y had not mentioned during the deal, then Mr. X can claim compensatory damages. In this case, if the said problems bring down the market price of the house, then Mr. Y will be liable to pay Mr. X the difference between the contract price and market price as damages.

A painter hires a moving company to deliver his paintings at the art gallery, where he intends to exhibit them. The people at the moving company fail to make the delivery in time, as a result of which the painter misses the opportunity of selling some of his paintings. In this case, the defendant (i.e., the moving company) can be held liable for the loss of profits that the plaintiff (i.e., the painter) would have made, had the paintings reached the gallery in time.

As you must have noticed, it is easier to calculate special damages, as they are calculated in terms of monetary value. In contrast, general damages are intangible losses which are calculated on the basis of special damages. As general damages don’t have a set value, the decision is left to the judge.

A Brief Explanation About Direct Evidence

Burden of Proof
In legal proceedings, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, which implies that the onus is on the prosecution to prove that the defendant is guilty.
Evidence is what decides a case in both, civil and criminal trials. It helps the parties involved make their case as to what happened and who should be held responsible for the happening. In the courtroom, evidence is anything that supports the truth, i.e., the guilt or innocence, as long as it is admissible in a legal proceeding. It can be the testimony of a witness, documentary evidence like a contract or will, or physical evidence in the form of some material object.

Evidence is broadly classified into two types: direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. While the definition of direct evidence would be that which directly links a person to a crime, circumstantial evidence only implies that the said person has committed the crime, and calls for reasoning.

What is Direct Evidence?

In the field of law, direct evidence―as the name suggests―is any evidence that provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. Simply put, it validates the assertion of guilt or innocence. The simplest and by far the most common example of direct evidence will be the testimony of an eyewitness.

Having said that, there are a few points that need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, it should directly prove or disprove a fact without making any assumption or inference. If it does resort to assumption or inference, then it will be circumstantial evidence. In other words, it should be based on facts, not coincidences. Secondly, it should be based on personal knowledge or observation, not hearsay.

Depending on who the witness is, the weight of direct evidence will vary. If the witness is a well-known and respected member of society, then his testimony will have a stronger influence on the jury than that of a witness with a dubious record. In either case, direct evidence is of great help for the jury, as it lessens the degree to which they have to infer whether it was the defendant who committed the crime.

Examples of Direct Evidence

As we said earlier, the most common example of direct evidence is eyewitness testimony. Let’s say, for example, you are walking down the street, and as you pass the alley, you see a man stabbing another man with a knife. In this case, your testimony will be direct evidence. Similarly, in an accident-related personal injury case, the testimony of a bystander who witnessed the accident take place will be considered as direct evidence.
As for physical evidence which qualifies as direct evidence, an apt example will be a copy of the contract in a breach of contract case. Then, there are cases where surveillance tapes and other such documentary evidence can also act as direct evidence; a case where an individual is accused of shoplifting will be an apt example of the same.

Direct Evidence Vs. Circumstantial Evidence

The basic difference between direct and circumstantial evidence is that, the latter relies on inference or assumption. In fact, circumstantial evidence almost always has more than one explanation. If, for instance, one person’s fingerprints are found at the scene of a crime, it may mean, (i) he has committed the crime, (ii) he was there when the crime was committed, or (iii) he has nothing to do with the crime; his fingerprints were found there because he had visited the place earlier.

Elaborating on the example we discussed earlier, let’s say you are walking down the street, when all of sudden you hear a scream and see that a person comes running out of an alley. You go inside to see what has happened, and find a body lying there. In this case, your testimony―that you saw the accused running out of the alley, will be considered circumstantial evidence.

While circumstantial evidence usually complements direct evidence to solidify the case, it is of immense importance when it comes to cases where direct evidence is lacking. Then again, at times, circumstantial evidence is enough to prove that someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Summarizing the concept, direct evidence directly supports the truth of an assertion, while circumstantial evidence makes an inference to support the truth of an assertion. Thus, when it comes to conviction, both are valuable in varying degrees, and a combination of both can solidify the case.

The Act of Violation of Probation and its Overlooked Consequences

The concept of probation was introduced on humanitarian basis, in order to reduce the severity of punishments that are handed to people with misdemeanor. According to a probationary order, a person is supposed to ‘abstain’ or ‘refrain’ from a particular action. Some common probation orders include:

  • Remain employed
  • Refrain from borrowing credit
  • Abide by the curfew
  • Refrain form leaving the jurisdiction
  • Refrain from possessing firearms
  • Refrain from consuming alcohol

The terms and conditions of probation depend on the nature of the offense. For example, if a person is caught driving at a speed higher than the permissible limits, he might be put on a probation and barred from driving for a stipulated time. However, if a person is caught driving at a high speed under the influence of alcohol, he might not only be barred from driving for a stipulated time, but also from consuming or possessing alcohol for a stipulated time.

Law takes its own course if an offender fails to maintain the obligation of following the conditions of probation. There are strict rules in place to deal with probation violation. The consequences of violating a probation can range from a fine to serving time in jail, and depend on the discretion of the probation officer and the nature of the violation. In case of a violation, the probation officer might want the offender to appear in court. Depending on the evidence, the nature of the violation, past record, among other considerations, the judge penalizes the offender. The penalties can include:

A Fine

In cases where violation is not very serious, the person is let off with a small penalty. The person is usually fined in cases where curfew is violated or where the offender leaves the said jurisdiction without taking permission from his probation officer.


There are scenarios in which the judge may order the concerned person to be sent to a rehabilitation program or community service. These penalties are usually levied on offenders who have violated the probation by consuming or possessing drugs/alcohol. In such cases, the offender needs to complete these programs as a requirement of probation.

Probation extension

Violating a probation can lead to an extension of probation period. Probation usually lasts for three to five years, and violating it can mean that the offender extends the period by another couple of years.

Increased supervision

Offenders are supervised on the basis of the nature of the crime they have committed. Petty cases involve informal supervision or unsupervised probation, and the offender either meets the probation officer once or not at all. There is no intrusion of privacy in such supervision. However, in case of a violation, the judge can consider raising the level of supervision to either standard or even to a stricter, intrusive probation, where the movements of the offender are monitored closely.


In cases where the original crime has been rather serious and the violation of probation has also been serious, the court may award an imprisonment as a penalty to the person. At times, it so happens that prisoners are released before their term is done, but are kept on some specific probation. In such a situation, if the person violates the probation, he may be again sent back to prison.

Suing for Slander Tips

In democracy, every individual has the freedom of expression as his fundamental right. That, however, should not be interpreted as the right to malign the reputation of other people by spreading false information about them. Regardless of whether it is done deliberately or it happens by mistake, defamation can never be justified.

Basically, there are two forms of defamation – slander, which deals with verbal defamation, and libel, which is more often associated with published information. Considering that the two concepts are a lot similar, it can get confusing at times, and basic knowledge about them can be of some help.

What is Slander?

A form of defamation, slander is basically the act of spreading false information about an individual or entity, which results in damage to the reputation of the said individual or entity, and may result in financial loss at times. Though slander is more often associated with verbal accusations, sometimes body gestures or spread of information on the Internet also amounts to the same.

How Does it Differ from Libel?

Slander is a lot different from the other form of defamation, libel, wherein the false information about a particular individual or entity is published – and not spread by word of mouth. While libel can be proved easily in the court of law, it requires some efforts on the behalf of the complainant to prove slander. This, in turn, makes the process of suing a bit tedious, and that is exactly why people prefer to opt for out of court settlement in such cases.

On What Grounds Can a Person be Sued for Slander?

The moment you realize that some slanderous information about you, is being circulated, your first reaction is to try to stop it. But that is not as easy as it seems. At times, the only option you are left with is to sue the individual for defamation. An individual can be sued for slander even when the false accusations started by him are being spread by other people. In all likelihood, you are likely to have a tough time dealing with the legalities of the matter, and a wise thing to do would be to hire an attorney to carry out the legal proceedings on your behalf.

In case of libel, evidence exists in form of published work, which makes it relatively easy to prove that defamation occurred. That, however, is not the case with slander, as the accusations are verbal, and proving that the accused said them is difficult owing to the lack of evidence. The testimony of an eyewitness (like a colleague or friend who overheard the conversation) does play a crucial role in determining whether slander occurred, but such cases are very rare.

You as the complainant also have to prove that the slander damaged your reputation to a significant extent. If financial aspect is involved, proving it in court becomes relatively easy. Let’s say you are in talks with the head of a particular firm (Mr. Z) for a business deal. At the very last moment, some individual (Mr. X) spreads some negative remarks about you, and Mr. Z promptly decides to call off the talks; as a result of which you end up losing the contract. In such circumstances, you can sue Mr. X for slander, provided you can prove that you lost the contract because of him.

A defamation lawsuit can be filed against the person who has made slanderous statements, even if his act didn’t result in any financial loss for you. In order to prove that the slanderous statements caused a significant damage to your image, you also need to prove that the statements made by the accused were false. If an individual, for instance, alleges that you are suffering from a particular ailment, you can provide medical records that refute his allegation.

If the slanderous statements were made online, screenshots of the webpage containing the ‘said’ posts or comments act as evidence in course of legal proceedings. The number of comments following the slanderous statements may also act as further evidence. Even if the posts were deleted before you could take the screenshots, you can contact the administrator for the particular website, and make a formal request to furnish you with the records.

Once you file a lawsuit against the accused, he will have to file an answer for the same. The accused may either deny coming up with any false accusation or accept the charges, but argue that he shouldn’t me made to pay for any damages. In the first case, you will have to use the evidence you collected, in form eyewitness testimony or hard copy of records, to prove that the statements made by the accused caused harm to your reputation. In the second case, you will have to provide a detailed record of the financial loss you suffered as a result of the damage caused to your reputation. Based on this evidence, the judge will give the ruling, and direct the accused to pay for the damage/s.

The biggest hindrance in this process is to prove that the accused said something which led to defamation, and that makes many people opt for an out of court settlement – instead of going ahead with defamation lawsuit for the same.

Power of Attorney Template

A power of attorney (POA) is a written document intended to legally enable a person to represent somebody else in financial, medical/health-care, or other related matters. Usually, a POA is made when it is anticipated that a person would not be physically present to attend to his/her own matters, or in the event that he/she gets incapacitated, and so is unable to act in said matters.

A person who wishes to grant such an authority to another is called the principal, and the person to whom it is granted is called the attorney-in-fact (or agent). The laws regarding what should be included in a power of attorney are not uniform across all states. Some states require that the document be signed by one or two witnesses, notarized, and filed in the local probate court. Some require either only witnesses or only notarization. In some states, only a written document is sufficient to grant a power of attorney. There are a few states where the laws are very elaborate, and a lot more goes into getting a power of attorney granted than in most states.

If a person, due to some reason, loses the ability to handle his/her own affairs, then the family of such an individual would need to get a court-appointed guardian to manage them. To avoid this situation, it is advisable to get a ‘durable’ POA prepared. A durable POA remains effective even after a person has lost the ability to act, for all practical purposes, independently and rationally. A general POA, on the other hand, loses its effectiveness with the loss of the principal’s abilities.

General Power of Attorney

I, (complete name), resident of (complete address), hereby authorize (name of agent), resident of (complete address), as my Attorney-in-fact.

I hereby state that my Attorney-in-fact shall have the complete authority to make such decisions listed below, on my behalf.

(Over here, list the powers that you wish your attorney-in-fact should have, and the assets for which he/she might be required to make decisions, and the scope of such decisions. State clearly the circumstances in which these powers would be limiting, and the circumstances in which they would not.)

I further wish to state that I may revoke this power of attorney at any time I may choose to, with a prior written notice to my Attorney-in-fact.

Place: Name:
Witnesses (Optional)

1. (complete name) (signature)

2. (complete name) (signature)



Notarization (Optional)

On the (day) day of (month) in (year), a Notary Public known to me appeared in person and proceeded with the execution of this document, and after being sworn, acknowledged the execution of this document for the purposes mentioned therein as carried out of his/her own volition.


My Commission Expires


Durable Power of Attorney

I, (complete name), resident of (complete address), hereby authorize (name of agent), resident of (complete address), as my Attorney-in-fact.

In the absence of the said Attorney-in-fact, I authorize (complete name of alternate attorney-in-fact), resident of (complete address), as my alternate Attorney-in-fact.

This document shall take immediate effect and shall remain effective in the event of my loss of physical or mental capacity. This document is a Durable Power of Attorney.

I hereby state that my Attorney-in-fact shall have the complete authority to make such decisions listed below, on my behalf.

(Over here, list the powers that you wish your attorney-in-fact should have, and the assets for which he/she might be required to make decisions, and the scope of such decisions. State clearly the circumstances in which these powers would be limiting, and the circumstances in which they would not.)

I further wish to state that I may revoke this power of attorney at any time I may choose to, with a prior written notice to my Attorney-in-fact.

Place: Name:
Witnesses (Optional)

1. (complete name) (signature)

2. (complete name) (signature)



Notarization (Optional)

On the (day) day of (month) in (year), a Notary Public known to me appeared in person and proceeded with the execution of this document, and after being sworn, acknowledged the execution of this document for the purposes mentioned therein as carried out of his/her own volition.


My Commission Expires


These are the basic forms for a general power of attorney and a durable power of attorney. They are not intended for one particular state, and are for the purpose of reference only. Some states have downloadable forms prepared in accordance with their particular statutes. For residents of other states, standardized forms prepared by law firms or other organizations are available. You can get a power of attorney made for any purpose in consultation with your lawyer.

It has to be kept in mind that only a person whom you trust completely should be invested with such authority as is granted by a document of the nature of a power of attorney. It also has to be carefully worded so as not to be ambiguous in any way. Remember that you can revoke the power of attorney as and when you wish.

Tips to Represent Yourself in a Small Claims Court

Under most state rules in the United States, lawyers are not allowed in a small claims court. However, if you are suing or are being sued by an attorney, then you could request to be represented by a lawyer as well. Nevertheless, in most cases, a small claims settlement is done directly in front of a magistrate without lawyers present. This is not such a big deal and you can make the most of self-representation by being prepared and honestly putting forth your own case.

What is a Small Claims Court

The “Small Claims Court” is a part of a state’s court system that typically hears civil cases between private litigants, where the claimant tries to resolve a monetary dispute where the amount of money does not exceed $5000 (this limit may slightly vary from state to state). The aim of such a court is to provide an inexpensive and quick platform to resolve small claims without the litigants having to go through any complex legal procedures and without engaging the services of lawyers.

General List of Claims Filed in a Small Claims Court

Given below is a list of typical claims filed in a small claims court. Remember that the money limit condition remains the sole criteria for a claim (and counterclaim as well) to qualify for settlement in a small claims court. The nature of the complaint or its urgency do not matter!

  • Claim to refund of money made as down payment, back rent or security deposit
  • Claim on dud checks
  • Claim for payment of wages, contract dispute for labor
  • Claim on damages or refund on faulty workmanship or defective merchandise
  • Claim on damages to property due to an accident

You cannot file a complaint with a small claims court for claims arising from alimony support, professional malpractice, domestic or marital disputes, libel or slander, damage to your reputation (defamation charges) or claims valued above the money limit of a small claims section.

An important thing to remember is that if you are suing in a small claims court to save time, but are actually entitled to damages exceeding the money limit of the court, you’re effectively forfeiting your claim on the remaining amount. In case you decide to go ahead with a small claims settlement on the partial amount, you cannot claim the remaining money in a separate lawsuit!

Representing Yourself in a Small Claims Court

Preparing to File a Complaint

  • The complainant must be 18 years of age or older. If not, the parent or guardian may file the actual complaint.
  • Be aware of the statute of limitation that defines how long you have to start a case (depends on the type of case).
  • The Office of the Special Civil Part of the county where the case is filed must be the residence or office/business location of at least one of the defendants.
  • You may even file the case for claims online (available in most states). This is usually possible for a fixed amount of money. The defendant receives the printed court order on the same day of filing! Check if this works for your case.
  • For an in-court settlement, if you’re the plaintiff, ensure to fill the complaint form properly.
  • Fill in your own address, the defendant’s address, telephone numbers, claim amount and all the other details correctly so as to ensure proper service of your complaint.
  • Sign the form and pay the correct fees for filing. The clerk/staff of the Special Civil Part can be consulted for these procedures.
  • The cost of filing a complaint may differ from state to state. If you cannot afford the cost, you may apply to the court to grant you a waiver by qualifying you as an indigent.
  • Trace out all the records that would support your claim or counterclaim such as canceled checks, bills, contracts, photographs, etc. If you need the support of witnesses, ensure they are ready and available to testify. Be ready with all the paperwork and evidence.
  • If you need legal advice or knowledge about state statutes, ensure to consult an attorney at the earliest about arguments that could prove your claim.

If you’re jittery about court procedures and nervous about standing before a magistrate, ensure that you follow the above tips in preparation for court. Doing your homework thoroughly will do wonders to your confidence levels whether you’re suing or being sued.

Small Claims Court Proceedings

You will be notified (through a notice of allocation) about the time and place of the hearing. In fact, you might be asked to deal with the claim without a hearing. A lack of reply will be treated as the need for a preliminary hearing where the magistrate might explain or give personal directions to the concerned parties. Subsequently, a final hearing may take place. The following information will be useful for you to represent yourself in a small claims court.

  • Dress appropriately, in a professional manner and follow basic courtroom etiquette. Arrive on time.
  • The staff at the Office of the Special Civil Part will be more than ready to answer any questions that you may have before the hearing. However, that does not substitute legal advice; take them as recommendations or suggestions only.
  • You may even find an information booklet when you go to pick up your claim form.
  • If you’re the defendant and fail to show up, the default ruling may be against you and you may be directed by the court to settle the claim to the plaintiff.
  • When providing a list of documents to support your case, present it neatly, in a chronological order.
  • Don’t worry, you don’t have to sound or act like a lawyer. You will find the proceedings in a small claims court rather informal and not as strict regarding rules of evidence. Mostly, just follow the directions of the magistrate and you should be fine.
  • If you’re not comfortable speaking English, you can have your interpreter speak on your behalf (notify the magistrate in advance) but the court does not usually provide an interpreter.
  • You will most likely be assigned a time limit in which the hearing needs to be completed, so ensure that you’re making the most of the time allotted.
  • The magistrate may appoint a mediator to help settle your case.
  • If you win the case, the Judgment Collection Brochure will have information about how to collect your judgment (including court costs). However, the court does not force the defendant to settle the claim immediately! If the claim is not settled voluntarily according to the judgment, you will have to take additional steps to recover the claim. Consult the clerk of court for the exact procedure for judgment debtor exam, garnishment of wages, etc.
  • If the final ruling is not in your favor, as the plaintiff or defendant you may appeal against the ruling; you will not get back the court fees. The procedure varies from state to state.
  • Appeals are generally accepted only if there have been serious irregularities in the proceedings.

Self-representation in a small claims court is not a big deal from the legal proceedings perspective. As a claimant, you might find it to be a quick and hassle-free process if the defendant is willing to co-operate on some level (such as agreeing to mediation or final judgment, etc.). For small claims, it does not make sense for a claimant or defendants to appoint a lawyer and start a full-fledged legal proceeding. However, a small claims suit should not be the first resort. Ensure that as a claimant you have asked for the claim out of court. If you’re the defendant, and if you feel the claimant has every right to the claimed amount, it is best to avoid a hearing and pay up. It is best to resolve disputes without litigating. In case you do choose the small claims court as your next step, the above tips will hopefully help you win your claim.

Falsified Evidence Ideas

unduhan-20Falsification of the evidence is not something new. The world has witnessed several cases, where the so-called criminals were acquitted after years of captivity. What went wrong? Why did they have to experience the angst and agony of imprisonment? Who is to blame for their plight? What delayed their extrication? Most of the time, in such cases, justice was delayed due to falsified evidence!

What is Falsified Evidence?
Any information which is fabricated or procured by illegal means, in order to divert the course of an impending verdict, can be termed as falsified evidence. Such evidence is not only used by a criminal for his acquittal, but it is sometimes used to frame an innocent person.

Who Falsifies Evidence?
It is obvious that evidence is falsified by the criminals to avoid imprisonment, but they are not the only ones who manipulate evidences. The adversarial trial system involves 2 parties, the prosecution and the defense, either of them can falsify the evidence to gain a verdict in their favor. The influence of the police cannot be mitigated if the evidence is fudged.

Why is Evidence Falsified?
As I mentioned earlier, false evidence is used by criminals to rescue themselves from the possible imprisonment, but there are several other reasons why evidence is tampered or manufactured illegally. Few of them are discussed here:

Noble Cause Corruption
When the police believe that they have found the culprit, but they do not have enough evidence to frame him, they resort to the fabrication of evidence and justify themselves by believing that, their act is in the larger good of the society. This is termed as noble cause corruption.

Incompetence or Indifference
Sometimes, the people who are assigned to collect evidence are incompetent, they find it easier to create evidence rather than finding them. On the other hand, there may arise a situation where the police show no interest in the pursuit of the truth, they simply fabricate evidence which reconciles with their prejudice.

To Save the Innocent
There can be people who believe that the accused is not guilty. These people are driven by overwhelming emotions, and they desperately want to save the accused, so they resort to the falsification of the evidence.

When is the Evidence Falsified?
In reality, the evidence can be forged or fabricated any time (till the jury has not arrived at a verdict!). You cannot isolate a time span and say that, this is when the evidence is manipulated, but you can surely state the situations in which there is a high probability of tampering with the evidence, few such situations are listed below:

  • A delay in the arrest will give time to the accused to manipulate the evidence.
  • If the accused has his “men” outside, they will surely try to fudge the evidence.
  • If the defense believes that there is no way of saving the accused, they will resort to falsification of the evidence.

Falsifying evidence is not just restricted to law and order, there have been instances where people carrying out scientific research have falsified the evidence so that the evidence lies in accordance with their hypothesis. Whatever may be the case, the fabrication and manipulation of the evidence cannot be justified under any circumstances!

Truth can never be obscured for long, it will surely emerge from the clouds of deceit one day. Knavish men who mock the judiciary by fabricating evidences should be put behind the bars, but it is very difficult to nab them if the police favors them.

A legally abiding innocent citizen has to pay the price for such a fraud, he has to tolerate the captivity for ages with the hope that someday, the world will realize that he was not guilty, but no one can assure him, that he will have a normal life after the delayed justice. To conclude, I state a famous quote; “Justice delayed is justice denied”.

Tips to Make a Citizen’s Arrest

unduhan-22Taking the law into your own hands is a dangerous and often an extreme form of justice. If there are no rules or regulations to govern you, then you can act without thinking and allow your emotions to control you. But in times of crisis and if there are no law enforcement agents around to stop a crime in progress, what can one do? Say a lady has been mugged and the thief is getting away. Or a possible suspect of a crime is trying his/her best to flee the scene. Should you stand by quietly and allow the criminal to escape, without a word of protest? Rather than let a criminal escape freely, one can, at this point, perform a citizen’s arrest.

What is a Citizen’s Arrest?

A citizen’s arrest is a law allowing a civilian or an average citizen, with no background in law enforcement, to act as a proxy police officer and stop a criminal. This law does not make the civilian, a honoree officer but rather gives him/her the right to apprehend, stop and transport the criminal to a law enforcement agency or at least confine him/her, until the cops arrive. This form of arrest is carried out without an arrest warrant. The suspect is expected to be handed over to the formal authorities as soon as possible. The word “citizen” in the term, is used to indicate an ordinary person making the arrest, as opposed to an officer of the law but in some countries, it is also used to signify that a citizen of that particular location should make the arrest and not temporary visitors or immigrants with no citizenship.

Below are some criteria that should be fulfilled to make such an arrest:

  • An individual has the right to perform a citizen’s arrest, if a crime or felony is being performed in his/hers’ presence.
  • If a crime has not been performed in his/her presence but the arresting individual has a probable cause to believe in the guilt of an individual, he/she may perform the arrest.
  • If there is a breach of peace or disturbance in the community atmosphere, in the presence of an individual, then in order to stop it, he/she is authorized to arrest the individuals causing the disturbance.
  • A citizen’s arrest can also be viewed as an individual coming to the aid of a law enforcement officer in the time of need and making the arrest, if the officer is unable to do so at that time. For example, if a criminal is fleeing and the officer is injured and cannot apprehend him and there is no backup around.
  • Sometimes, the various acts or actions that can qualify for a person, being arrested by citizens around him are specified by law. This includes public drunkenness, public lewdness or exposure, driving drunk, looting and stealing.
  • The suspect will put up a struggle and a certain amount of reasonable and within limits force is allowed to subdue him/her. The force is expected to be able to restrain or confine the suspect. It should not be harmful by inducing wounds or life-threatening injuries. Use of weapons should be avoided.

How to Perform a Citizen’s Arrest?

The following are some steps to performing such an arrest:

  • Understand what is the crime being followed and who exactly is the perpetrator.
  • Unless you have conclusive proof and other witnesses to the crime around you, do not perform any arrest.
  • Notify the authorities for their aid, prior to stopping the criminal. Before you make any arrests, call your local police force and state the crime and location clearly for them.
  • Be realistic, you are not a police officer. The criminal will not recognize any authoritative steps from you and you could get seriously injured.
  • Try to enlist another witnesses’ aid in catching the criminal.
  • If the criminal is armed, do not perform a citizen’s arrest. Do not try to stop the criminal with firearms of your own, this will turn into a shoot-out.
  • There may be innocent people and civilians around you. Think of them before going on the offensive with a criminal, you may end up endangering other lives.
  • Say “Stop” or “Hold” in a commanding tone of voice, to stop the criminal.
  • Inform them in brief of their crime and state that they cannot leave until the police arrive.
  • You have no right to conduct a search or question the criminal in any way.
  • The criminal may try to resist. You can use some force to restrain him/her but remember you could get seriously hurt.
  • Do not render the suspect unconscious. The more violent you are with the suspect, the more you render yourself open to criminal prosecution for unlawful force.
  • Do not try to impersonate the police by flashing false IDs or in any other manner.
  • When the police arrive, immediately identify yourself and state what was the crime and hand over the suspect to the authorities. State clearly what you saw, who you are and what exactly the suspect was doing.

A citizen’s arrest is a good practice to follow in times of crisis. But be within your limits and do not assume you are a super-hero, capable of handling a criminal, especially more than one. That being said, vigilante justice is always frightening in terms of going overboard with violence, either for the criminal or the person performing the arrest. Different states of America have different laws when it comes to performing a citizen’s arrest, please make sure you are in accordance with the said state’s law prior to performing any such acts of justice.

Tips to Becoming an Expert Witness

An expert witness is a person who has extraordinary and specialized knowledge of his concerned subject as compared to the intellect of an average person. The testimony of this expert is highly valued in the court of law. The duty of an expert witness comes with great responsibility as his/her opinions play a decisive role in deciding the outcome of the case. For this, he/she needs to be unbiased in his/her research and opinions. He can testify either for the prosecution or for the defense parties. In many cases, both the parties use the services of an expert witness making the case complicated and sometimes also controversial. Do you want to become one? Read through the FAQs given below for a detailed information.

Where is an Expert Witness Required?
An expert witness is required to confirm the authenticity of an opinion or event, concerning law. This can be confirming severity of the injury of victim, cause of accident, and many other events. The expert has to carry out a thorough research for finding the truth and then he/she documents and presents the facts before the jury. His/her opinions and findings play a decisive role in judging the outcome of the case.

Who Can Become an Expert Witness?
Expert witnesses are generally experts in their field of work and many of them possess higher qualifications like a PhD degree. Though a doctorate is not a mandatory qualification required, experience and sound knowledge of their concerned field are factors that are important. The more education a person has, the more he/she will be trusted by the court. The qualifications of the person are generally verified by the concerned court authorities and so you should neatly document and present your skills. Many experts, to popularize and advertise their services, use websites through which they can also convey their availability to be a witness. There are schools that provide training to the potential candidates and help them obtain the important experience of the work. The work generally involves producing and preparing documents after studying the evidence cases.

What are the Required Skills?
Becoming an expert witness is quite a challenging task. Apart from holding the right qualification, he should also possess many other skills, some of them being communication and writing skills. He should have writing skills because it is his work to document all the evidence for the scrutiny of the court authorities. He also has to take care that the written format is well documented and easy to understand for the people involved.

How Much Can he Expect to be Paid?
Considering the challenge and responsibility involved with the job, expert witnesses are quite substantially paid. There are as such no perfect salary figures and the pay varies from one case to another. An expert who has experience of giving testimony to the court would demand a higher amount and would be well paid than the experts who have no court experience. The pay is quite similar to that of lawyers. In special cases, they can cut down on their fees, like in cases where the people involved with the case cannot pay the required fees. This entirely depends on the experts and the lawyers involved with the case.

To avoid controversy, an expert witness should be impartial and not let pressure affect them to modify the truth and authenticity of their opinion. This is because their findings have a very high say on deciding the fate of the case and deciding the judgment. If you are interested in becoming one, you should have a sound background knowledge of your area of work and the ability to justify your points.

Ways to File a Formal Complaint Against a Business

Before you register a complaint against a company, which you think has scammed you and sold you some bogus purchase, talk to the business authorities and request for the refund of the item that you purchased. Also, tell them that, you will pass on your experience (good or bad), to the concerned authorities. If the business group doesn’t comply with your request for a refund, then go the organization, recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Requirements Before Lodging a Complaint

  • Conversational records
  • Receipt of the product you purchased
  • Copy of the letter that you sent to the firm that scammed you
  • Complete information about the business

Filing a Complaint

Federal Trade Commission is United States government agency, which promotes consumer protection by taking measures against fraud and deception. established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act. Jon Leibowitz is the current chairman of the FTC agency. FTC keeps track on the scams and scammers, with the help of the following authorities. It also warns the public about the latest scams. Federal Trade Commission recommends the following organizations to file your complaint.

Attorney General’s Office
Depending on the state you belong to, you need to contact the Attorney General’s office through telephone or email. The complaint form will be available in the official site of the Attorney General’s office, and there you fill all the required details about yourself, company and a message explaining the fraud committed by the company against you. The Attorney General office will require the copy of the complaint letter that you have sent to firm or a person you are complaining about.

  • Name of the product purchased or repaired
  • Serial and model number of the product
  • Details of the transaction
  • State of problem
  • Requirement of a specific action

Enclose the copies of the pay receipts, guarantees and warranties, etc., in your letter to the business authorities for their reference. DO NOT sent the original documents even if asked for.

Local Better Business Bureaus
Better Business Bureau program is a good avenue to register the complaint. BBBOnline and Better Business Bureau system have made the process of complaint registration easy and fast. Though BBB system has limited power, but it registers the complaint, and maintain a listings of companies that cheat consumers. It gathers information from the consumers who complain about the service and get the consumer feedback. There are various categories in which the complaint can be filed. You can make your complaints about,

  • General company complaints
  • New cars
  • Non-profit or charitable organizations
  • Identity theft
  • Advertising (websites too) directed at children
  • misuse of personal information BBBonline authorities themselves.

Local Consumer Protection Office
Go to the consumer protection office website to register your complaint. They also alert the people about such fraudulent business firms and keep a track on the latest scams. To know your respective consumer protection office of your state, you can visit federal consumer action website, from where you can get the details of your local consumer protection office. On the federal consumer action website, you just need to click on Where to File a Complaint and State Offices and get the details.

Local Postmaster
The U.S. Postal service, is a government agency which will investigate the fraudulent mails sent by the scammer, in correspondence with your complaint. The offender will be prosecuted, if any such fraudulent mail practices are found.

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
If the scam was committed via Internet, you need report it to the federal government agency, IC3. It can be filed in the IC3 website, by providing the additional data required by them. If the scam is found to be significant, the perpetrator will be prosecuted in the federal court.

Advertising Managers
In case you want to lodge a complaint against any advertisement, then you can directly contact the advertising manager of the company that ran the advertisement. The advertising manager, may find out the problems you’ve had with the advertisement and he may cancel the future publications from the particular offender’s company.

Depending on the intensity of the issue and strong authenticated evidences, you need to deal with the issue. If you feel that the scam is highly offensive, then you can file a police complaint against the business and also notify the local media. By filing the right complaint, it would also help others, as they would not get deceived by the firm in the future.