• What a Private Investigator cannot do

    April 15, 2016 | Blog law
  • This weeks article talks about what a Private Investigator cannot do this is just the major misconceptions people often have.

    What is a Private Investigator?

    A Private Investigator secretly monitors other people, businesses, or documents without their knowledge. A Private Investigator is someone hired by a paying client who wants someone or something investigated into with utmost discretion. Private Investigators are professionally trained to deliver on their jobs without crossing the ambient of the law. There are many false assumptions of what a Private Investigator can or cannot do. This perception is built on the premise of how Private Investigators are portrayed in movie roles rather than actual real life scenarios.

    What does the Law Actually Say?

    The law states that "Law Enforcement" must obtain a proper warrant prior to attaching a GPS vehicle tracking device to a car. The reason is that doing this action constitutes a search. A point that some Private Investigators will argue is that the law states specifically law enforcement. This is true; however, lets use some common sense analysis here. Many of the laws written will indicate law enforcement. Can a private investigator capture DNA of an individual and run it through CODIS? Private Investigators don't even have privileged access to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) or AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) for that matter so the answer is an obvious no.

    What a Private Investigator cannot do.

    1. A Private Investigator cannot perform wire taps or bug a phone line. There is strict restriction that prevents parties from having such access and this includes Private Investigators.  Conversations gotten through this means where the consent is not given may be discarded in the court of law even if such evidence is glaring; however, there a Private Investigator are allowed to record the conversation of the person they are monitoring if the conversation was done in public places. They can also record a phone conversation depending on which State you are in without giving consent.
    2. Private Investigator's cannot trespass on private property. They are not allowed to break into someone’s home without permission of the owner. If a violation occurred then it is a crime and an arrestable offense of breaking and entering or if entrance was not made then the lesser charge of criminal trespassing would be the offense. 
    3. One of the misconceptions held about PIs is that they are allowed to hack into government servers. No doubt they are good at hacking information, but state or federal laws prevent them from doing such. Obtaining information from someone’s bank account is illegal, although they are allowed to track down the different accounts people may have. In a case of alimony where the ex is not paying the alimony and hiding his accounts from law, Private Investigators can find out such, but cannot see the balance contained in the account. Such limitations are extended to credit checks.
    4. Other things a Private Investigator cannot do are – lie to obtain information, commit murder on behalf of their client, and impersonate a person.


    Hopefully this article has shed light on the reality on common misconceptions of what a Private Investigator cannot do.  Television is just that often times fiction and not a true depiction of reality.