Is it legal for someone to hire a private investigator? 7 things a private investigator will not do.
This question arises very frequently and for most private investigators it’s a surprising question. A private investigator is someone who you hire to gather evidence on your behalf. According to Wikipedia:
A private investigator (often abbreviated to PI and informally called a private eye), a private detective, or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals, groups or NGO’s to undertake investigatory law services. Private investigators often work for attorneys in civil and criminal cases.
Before reading any further – none of the information below is considered to be legal advice. We’re not attorneys. You should consult an attorney before following any of the advice below.
Private investigators are required to be licensed in almost all states. They are either licensed by the Secretary of State or by the State Police and in Florida they’re licensed by the Department of Agriculture (go figure!). You should alway check with your local licensing agency to make sure the private investigator you hire has a valid license to operate. You can see what a private investigator license looks like here. For the rest of this article we’ll only be talking about LICENSED private investigators.
(Incidentally, it’s probably ILLEGAL to hire a NON-LICENSED private investigator. You should ask an attorney)
However, in ALMOST all cases, anyone can hire a private investigator. It’s legal to so but there are some things you should probably know before you rush out and hire a private investigator:
- A private investigator will not stalk someone for you
- A private investigator will not tap someone’s phone lines for you
- A private investigator will not beat up someone because they owe you money
- A private investigator will not tamper with evidence in a case
- A private investigator will not make a witness change their statement
- A private investigator will not steal on your behalf
- A private investigator will not intimidate someone on your behalf
Basically, if something is illegal for you to do, it will be illegal for the private investigator to do. Most competent, professional private investigators will figure out very quickly if you’re asking them to do one of the items listed above and will either politely end the conversation with you, or will share some very choice words with you. If what you’re asking them to do is particularly serious, they’ll likely report you to the police. And that’s only the start of your problems.
This is one other scenario where people believe it might be illegal to hire a private investigator and in fact it is absolutely legal to hire one. You’re going to want to absolutely consult with your attorney before proceeding to hire a private investigator and make sure you, the PI and the attorney are all on the same page regarding a strategy for your case.
Your attorney should tell you that it is absolutely legal for your to investigate, and hire a private investigator to assist you in your case, whether you’re on the defense side or the prosecution side. Everyone is entitled to investigate on their behalf.
But, because you have a restraining order against you, you won’t be able to have the private investigator go near the other party, or contact the other party. Almost all professional private investigators will know how to proceed and will want to work with your attorney so they don’t “step on any toes”.
If you are looking for an affordable private investigator, with 20 years of experience assisting individuals, attorneys and corporations feel free to contact us here. You can also view a portion of our extensive client list here, and see what actual clients say about us here.