Private Detective LA

A private detective is just another name for a private investigator. A private detective is an independent civilian who is hired by individuals or an organization dealing with a civil or criminal matter requiring the services provided by an investigator. These services may include but are not limited to surveillance, documentation, interviews, and research that provide evidence in legal, criminal, or business investigations.

Private detectives in Los Angeles use their talents to be able to gather and analyze information. Some of a private detective’s talents are:

  • Performing investigations undercover
  • Performing different types of surveillance activities
  • Documenting and reporting the results of the investigations they conduct
  • Interviewing people, including potential witnesses
  • Doing extensive research

Being a great detective requires having a keen eye, excellent observation skills, and an analytical mindset.

Requirements to Become a Private Detective

detectives los angelesEach state has different requirements when it comes to obtaining a private detective license. Not all states require licensing, though. Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Wyoming do not require licensing on the state level. Alaska and Wyoming require licensing on the local level.

The general requirements for obtaining a license that most of the states require include:

  • A highschool diploma or GED
  • Applicant must be of at least the minimum age (ranges from 18-25)
  • Clean criminal record with no felonies or convictions that involve crimes of moral turpitude
  • Industry experience or college education
  • Must be a United States citizen or legal resident

Requirements to Become Licensed in Los Angeles

To become a licensed private detective in the state of California, a person must fulfill certain requirements. Besides the requirement of being aged 18 years or older, the following must also be completed:

  • Undergo a criminal background check through the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Applicants are responsible for paying all of the associated fees and the fingerprinting at the time of the appointment.
  • Must have had at least three years (2,000 hours per year, 6,000 hours total) of compensated experience in the investigation industry


Have a law degree or have completed a four-year course in police sciences plus two years (4,000 hours) of experience


Have an associate degree in police science, criminal law, criminal justice, and 2 ½ years (5,000 hours) of experience. Experience must be certified by a previous employer and have been received while employed as a sworn law enforcement officer, military police, insurance adjuster, employee of a licensed PI, licensed repossessor, arson investigator, or in a public defender’s office.

  • Pass a two-hour multiple-choice exam covering laws and regulations, terminology, civil liability, criminal liability, evidence handling, undercover investigations, and surveillance.
  • After passing the exam, the licensing fee must be submitted to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.


In California, the private investigator license must have the following included with it:

  • Completed private investigator license application
  • Two recent photos that are considered passport-quality
  • The application fee

Private investigators often have to travel for work, meaning they often cross state lines. Some states, including California, have entered into reciprocity agreements, allowing private detectives to cross state lines with a single investigator’s license. The states who have reciprocity agreements include:

  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Florida
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia

The Industries That Often Request Private Investigations

Skilled private detectives in Los Angeles are often in high demand in several industries. Their skills and expertise are valuable in a large number of areas. The industries that often call on the help of these LA detectives are:

  • Computer forensics
  • Undercover investigations
  • Personal protection services
  • Crisis intervention
  • Supplier, vendor, and employee screenings
  • Criminal investigations
  • Civil investigations
  • Retail loss and prevention
  • Polygraph services
  • Missing persons
  • Personal investigation – spouse surveillance, etc.
  • Pre-employment screening

These investigators may choose to specialize in a specific area for their career, whereas others may offer multiple specialties. The United States Association of Professional Investigators recognizes a number of specialties that a private detective may choose.

These specialties include:

  • Civil investigation
  • Criminal investigation
  • Criminology and Behavioral Sciences
  • Investigative Business Administration
  • Terrorism and intelligence
  • Security
  • Special victims (children, elderly, etc.)
  • Investigative law and ethics
  • Insurance investigations
  • Computer and Internet Forensics

You might find that some private detectives in Los Angeles only focus on areas such as missing persons or performing background checks. Others may prefer to work on surveillance cases such as cheating spouses or insurance fraud. Some may choose to specialize in skip tracing practices, assisting bail bondsmen or bounty hunters. No matter their specialties, they are required to work ethically within the scope of the law.

The Most Popular Reasons to Hire a Private Detective

You may not realize just how popular private detectives are, especially in Los Angeles. The most common reasons to hire these professionals is for:

Background Checks – Background checks are an essential part of due diligence for companies who hire employees, rent out properties, enter personal relationships, and more. Many background checks uncover already public information, but in a more in-depth format, which is why private detectives are called on to perform these.

Surveillance – Surveillance can be more than one type of specialty. Still, in all situations, it is used to allay the client’s suspicions. Advanced technology has allowed investigators to uncover more information and perform more comprehensive and discrete surveillance operations.

Missing Persons – Many law enforcement agencies, especially local, state, and national, lack the resources needed for missing person cases. Private investigators are often hired to follow up on leads, interview witnesses, and assert the time necessary to uncover the tracks that a person has tried to cover.

Child Custody Cases – Child custody cases are difficult within the legal system. Many of these cases result in one party saying the other party did something. Seasoned private investigators may be hired to collect crucial evidence that can make all the difference in the case.

Criminal Investigations – Criminal investigations can seem one-sided. The defense may hire a private investigator to help with additional legwork in a case, such as interviewing witnesses and other tasks to help the defense form the best case possible for their client.

Responsibilities of a Private Detective in the US

Being a private investigator isn’t quite what they lead you to believe in the movies. While some of the jobs may be alike, many investigators fill their days doing the following:

  • Performing surveillance tasks, which could involve going undercover
  • Prepare reports
  • Conduct background checks for both personal request and employment screening
  • Interview people – could be key witnesses or supporting witnesses
  • Gather intelligence that is useful in cases
  • Provide security services
  • Assisting in the location of missing persons
  • Give testimony under oath in court

Private detectives are not government agents, but the information that they gather may be used later for criminal investigations that are conducted by these agents. Due to the use of the evidence they gather in investigations, they are required to adhere to the established federal, state, and local laws.

Why You Need Kay & Associates

Kay & Associates is LA’s premier private detective firm, with experience handling private investigations for clients since 1992. They specialize in handling cases that involve:

  • Infidelity
  • Small Business and Corporate
  • Surveillance
  • Background Searches
  • Asset Location
  • Child Support and Custody
  • Financial Fraud
  • Digital Forensics
  • Construction
  • Asset Protection
  • Accident Investigation
  • Missing Persons
  • Criminal Defense and Post-Conviction

If you find yourself in need of experienced private investigators in Los Angeles, Kay & Associates has the services you may require. You can begin your journey with the firm by getting your free 15-minute phone consultation on your case.

Don’t get overly stressed trying to handle everything on your own. Let professionals with industry-leading experience take over the case, providing you with the results you want in the time you need them.

Don’t delay – Kay & Associates is open, offering honest, professional, and discreet services. Reach out via contact form, phone, or email. We are available to give you the help and service you need at prices you can afford.