What Are Private Investigators Allowed to Do?

The very term private investigator comes with a multitude of connotations. Most of these stem from popular culture, particularly literature and movies. Everyone is familiar with the classic noir aesthetic, and private investigators are about as synonymous with it as butter is to toast. Private investigation has of course enjoyed some measure of popularity in people’s minds thanks to this phenomenon. Yet the accuracy of its portrayal is definitely questionable. In particular, when it comes to what a PI can and can’t do. What is legal for them to do.

In this article, we will be exploring the limits of private investigation, attempting to demystify some of the misconceptions about the profession. How many times have you been watching a film and seen a private eye taking pictures of someone’s home? Or breaking into a building to acquire information? It is completely illegal for them to engage in such activities.

With this in mind, if you plan on hiring a private investigator it is important to know what they can and can’t do. Even if you find yourself being investigated, knowing this is also important.

Why Do Private Investigators Get Hired?

Private investigators are professionals that specialize, and are skilled in, finding information. Said information can entail the workings of a business or an individual. The aim of acquiring this information is to present it as evidence in court. So in order for it to be admissible, they need to acquire it within the confines of the law.

Some of the information they could help you find might include finding someone’s birth parents, checking up on business security, looking for a missing person or even finding out whether a spouse is cheating. A private investigator is able to work on a wide breadth of cases. They are more than capable of finding a lot of information without breaking the law.

Can Private Investigators Arrest People?

In most scenarios, a private investigator cannot perform an arrest. In that regard, they have the same authority as any other citizen. At most they can make a citizen’s arrest, providing its legal within their jurisdiction. So they can detain someone until the police arrive, but they cannot take the suspect to jail. However, a PI does have the ability to document a crime. So long as they report it to the relevant authorities. This can later be admissible as evidence in court, if necessary.

How Influential Can a Private Investigator’s Information Be in Court?

When conducting surveillance, private investigators can gather evidence. The restrictions on the collection of this data vary from state to state. If when they are gathering the aforementioned evidence they witness a crime, they may alert the police of said crime. They can then document said crime as in depth as they their capabilities allow, whilst waiting for the officers to arrive. They PI can then hand over this evidence to the police once they arrive. This information can then be used against the arrested individual in court, helping to secure a conviction. And this evidence, of course, must be attained legally.

If you find yourself in need of a licensed private investigator and their particular set of skills, please feel free to call us. Or simply click on this link to get in contact with one of our team members.

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