Best Private Investigator Los Angeles
What does it mean to be the best private investigator (especially in Los Angeles)? Private investigation requires experts who have a keen eye and excellent observation skills. The investigations often require that these individuals have an analytical mindset that is detail-oriented. There is a level of creativity is required, depending on the specialization and task at hand.
Private investigators can be found across all of California, including Los Angeles County and Orange County – two extremely populous counties in the state. Talents that these individuals may have include:
- Performing investigations while appearing undercover
- Handling various types of surveillance
- Documenting and reporting on the investigations for clients
- Researching to provide accurate information
- Interviewing the public, including potential witnesses
To be the best private investigator in LA, it takes dedication and licensing on a state level.
Licensing Requirements in the US for Private Investigators
To be a private investigator in the United States, you have to become legally licensed (in most states). The only caveat to this rule is the five states that do not require private investigators to become licensed at the state level – Mississippi, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho, and Wyoming. Out of these five states, only two require licensing at the local level – Alaska and Wyoming. If you don’t live in one of these states, that means your state of residence requires those entering a profession of private investigation to be licensed.
Though each state is different, there are some general requirements that applicants must meet before applying for their license. The following questions can help get a potential private investigator started:
- Are you of the state minimum age? (Ages range from 18-25)
- Are you a United States citizen or legal resident?
- Do you have a high school diploma or GED?
- Do you have industry experience or have a college education?
- Is your criminal record clear of any felonies or convictions?
All of the answers to these should be “yes” if applying for a private investigator’s license. A detective agency may go a step further and require at least a bachelor’s degree before hiring someone to fill a position.
California Private Investigator Licensing Requirements
California has its own requirements for anyone who wants to be a private investigator in the state. The requirements are the same as above, with more in-depth requirements for experience and testing. Applicants must fall into one of the three experience categories when applying to the state for their licensing:
- Have at least three years of compensated industry experience. This translates to 2,000 hours per year or 6,000 hours total for the three-year requirement.
- Have obtained a law degree or completed a four-year course in police sciences in addition to two years of experience. This translates to 4,000 hours of experience time.
- Have an associate’s degree in criminal law, criminal justice, police science, and 2 ½ years of experience. This translates to 5,000 hours of compensated experience that has been certified by a previous employer. Previous employment should be as a sworn law enforcement officer, military police officer, insurance adjuster, or related field for experience purposes.
Applicants will also be required to submit to a criminal background check from both the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They will also be responsible for paying all the fees associated with these background checks and fingerprinting protocols.
Before paying the licensing fee and submitting the official application, applicants are required to sit through and pass a two-hour multiple-choice examination. This exam covers laws and regulations, civil liability, terminology, criminal liability, surveillance, undercover work, and evidence handling.
Investigations Across State Lines
Private investigators often find themselves traveling across state lines when handling important cases. To handle their business across state lines would either require licensing in that state or a reciprocity agreement. If a California-licensed private investigator goes into a state with a reciprocity agreement, they won’t need additional licensing to practice. If there is no reciprocity between the states, they would need to acquire licensing in that state to practice there. In addition to California, there are seven other states that have reciprocity agreements – Louisiana, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Private investigators would also be able to practice in states that do not require state licensing, except for Alaska and Wyoming, because there is no reciprocity and local licensing is required.
Licensing and Child Custody Cases
Child custody cases are among the more popular case types taken by private investigators in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Investigators are often hired to gather evidence against the other party in the custody lawsuit, strengthening the case for the person who hired them. The evidence brought to the court must be obtained legally. To be admissible, the investigator would need to be licensed to prove that proper and legal protocol was followed to get the evidence. Using unlawful ways to obtain evidence would not strengthen the case, nor would it be admissible.
What Types of Investigations Are Available?
Most private investigation jobs are broken down by specialty. The United States Association of Professional Investigators has a list of areas that they can specialize in. Certain professionals in the field may specialize in one field, or they may specialize in many. There is virtually no limit to what a private investigator can practice.
Some of the recognized specialties include:
- Civil and Criminal Investigations
- Criminology and Behavioral Sciences
- Terrorism and Intelligence
- Investigative Business Administration
- Insurance Investigations
- Investigative law and ethics
- Special Victims
- Computer and Internet Forensics
You may see a lot of collaboration in movies between the bail bondsmen and the private detective. These types of circumstances do happen in real life. A bail bondsmen may call upon a private investigator to help them locate someone who has skipped bail and pay them to help find them. The same way works with bounty hunters, the ones who actually collect the person who skips bail. A bounty hunter may offer a private investigator a portion of their reward if they help them locate the person who jumped bail.
Industries Where PI Work is in High Demand
There are industries where the best and most highly skilled private investigators are often in high demand. These industries often required an investigator who has a highly specialized concentration to their work.
Popular industries that hire the best private investigators include:
- Companies seeking undercover work
- Computer forensics
- Crisis intervention
- Personal protection services
- Criminal investigations
- Civil investigations
- Supplier, employee, and potential vendor screening
- Companies seeking polygraph services
- Finding missing persons
- Pre-employment screenings for companies
- Personal investigations – wife, husband, infidelity, etc.
The Most Common Investigations in LA
We already mentioned that child custody cases are quite common work for private investigators. There are some other specialties that see a lot of traffic in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas:
Background Checks – Probably the most highly sought after services, background checks allow for due diligence to be completed in almost any industry imaginable. Many of the background checks that private investigators handle fall into three categories: work, home, and love.
Employers who are looking to hire qualified employees might seek out the help of a professional private investigator to run a background check on potential employment candidates.
Rental property managers often require property applicants to submit to a background check before renting to them. These managers will have the check done by a licensed individual instead of running an internet search.
Dating can be hard, even in the home of Hollywood, making it more important to know who you are dating. Private investigators can be hired to perform background checks on love interests, possibly saving you from dating a potentially dangerous person.
Surveillance – Surveillance operations can be used in many different specialties. Many spouses will seek out the help of a private investigator to help them uncover infidelity in a relationship. Insurance companies have private investigators run surveillance on claims to see if there is an injury or if the claim is fraudulent.
Criminal Investigations – During criminal cases, it may become necessary for the defense to hire a private investigator. These investigators will help find evidence to strengthen the case of the defense or find suppressed evidence that could change the view of a judge and jury.
Post-Conviction Investigations – After a trial occurs and a guilty verdict is read, the defense has the opportunity to file an appeal. During the appeal process, they may hire a private investigator to help uncover the evidence that was not readily available during the first trial.
Missing Persons – People disappear in California. Sometimes it is on their own recognizance, and other times it is against their will. Some of the best private investigators in Los Angeles can help in tracking down these missing persons. It isn’t always a guarantee, but if anyone is going to make good headway on a case, it will be a private investigator.
Why Should You Trust a Private Investigator?
You shouldn’t trust every private investigator that you see online. Trusting a private investigator often means that you will be putting yourself out there just as much as they will uncover about the person or persons you are seeking the information about. Being as open and honest as possible with a private investigator can lead to true results.
The information that you give a private investigator helps them uncover information that you are seeking. This information may unlock more for them along the way because they can put two pieces of a puzzle together and create results.
Make sure when you are looking for a private investigator, you are looking for one who can handle the job you have for them. You don’t want to call on a private investigator who only does background checks if you want surveillance on a cheating spouse. You are wasting your time and theirs. Most ads or websites will tell you what the private investigator specializes in.
Next, you should check on their licensing. Find out if they are licensed to practice private investigation in the state of California and if they have worked cases like yours before. For confidentiality reasons, they aren’t going to be able to give you references (more than likely), but when talking to them, you should know that they are the best in the specialty. If they can’t answer generalized questions about the profession, you might want to move to the next candidate.
California’s Finest – Kay & Associates
Whether you are looking for someone to help with an infidelity case or computer forensics, the experts at Kay & Associates offer you the best services in the industry. Licensed in California since 1992, the detective agency’s finest investigators are ready to seek out the information you want to find. Get your free 15-minute case consultation today!