But the question regarding legalities raises other questions that need to be addressed. The questions are not so much about the legal hiring of a private investigator in itself, but the activities that are undertaken once you have hired one.
Yes, it is legal to hire a private investigator, but why you want to hire one and how the investigation is conducted will decide whether or not there are illegalities involved.
Any private investigator or private detective with a moral compass and worth their salt will not engage in illegal investigations. They will tell you straight if what you are asking them to do is illegal; and if serious may consider informing the authorities.
However, if your request does cross the fine line and tips the balance slightly, a trained investigator can sometimes use his or her experience and knowledge to find an alternative legal solution.
What Legal Powers Does A Private Investigator Have?
First of all, it is important to note that a private investigator does not have any additional powers than that of any ordinary citizen.
The private investigator, although having or not having a license to legally practice the profession depending on what state or country the work is done, does not have the same legal powers as those given to a police officer.
This is an important point to make, so you know that when you decide to hire an investigator you are asking an ordinary citizen to investigate something for you.
Now this doesn’t mean there aren’t laws or acts the private investigator can use in the course of the investigation, there are.
There are laws that can be utilized. There are laws that any private investigator or citizen can use, if you know what they are and the procedures. And knowing about these laws and how to use them is where a private investigator’s professional training and experience comes into play.
A private investigator knows or should know the legal barriers and procedures to enable an efficient and legal investigation of a case. He or she has the advantage of knowing what is legal and illegal, and uses this to benefit their client’s case.
Also, a private investigator usually has contacts within the legal profession, such as a lawyer, to obtain legal advice from if needed.
What Constitutes The Legal Or Illegal Hiring Of A Private Investigator?
As said before, it’s not the actual hiring of the private investigator that is classed as illegal, it’s the intentions and actions concerning a case that are classed as legal or illegal.
It’s worthwhile to know that a private investigator actually covers many fields in the course of investigative work and could be categorized into two main areas, which can also be broken down even further. These two areas are:
+ Civil Investigations
+ Criminal Investigations
Most countries recognise these two aspects – civil and criminal - as being separate, with each having their own set of laws, rules and procedures. Civil Law and Criminal Law.
Depending on what your case involves will decide which category and what laws, rules and procedures dictate the investigation.
Usually, a private investigator will be involved in Civil matters such as matrimonial investigations, working for businesses, insurance companies, lawyers firms, etc.
Criminal investigations, especially serious crime, will usually be investigated by the police. This doesn’t mean however that private investigators don’t investigate serious crimes, they do.