Private Investigator Cost LA

Private investigators, like any other services industry, charge their rates based on hourly-rates or a flat-fee. A lot of which is determined by the type of job that is requested and the amount of work that is required. Private investigators in LA handle many different types of work, often revolving around civil and criminal matters. They provide services such as surveillance, undercover work, research, background checks, and more.

Understanding the difference in pricing for a private investigator can help you weed out the bad from the good. In most circumstances, pricing is a determining factor when choosing the private investigator you work with for your case. Finding a detective who will be transparent and upfront with pricing is essential in the industry.

Step-By-Step Guide to Hiring the Best Private Investigator

The Costs of Hiring a Private Investigator in Los Angeles

Private investigator costs vary based on the task that you request. If a detective has to start from scratch with very little information to go on when handling your case, they may charge you more initially than if you have basic information for them to work from. Basic information includes things like full name, other aliases, addresses, social security numbers, previous employers, etc. These basic fundamentals of information allow the investigator to know that they are diving into the life of the right person. Time and money is lost if the right person isn’t located initially.

Background Checks

Background checks are likely to be a flat-rate fee service. For a basic data search, you can be looking at anywhere from $350 to $900, which can fluctuate based on the amount of information you hope to gain in the search.  The deeper the dig, the more expensive the pricing.

Background checks are often used by employers who want to find out more about a candidate they are keen on hiring but want to ensure they are the right fit for the company. Others who might utilize these services are people using dating apps to find the next love of their life. You can be anyone you want to be on a dating profile, but you can’t hide from a highly-skilled private investigator.


If you are looking for a private investigator to handle some surveillance work for you, these are likely to be hourly gigs. Along with the hourly rate, there should be a minimum number of hours that they bill for. Surveillance is unpredictable, to say the least. Are you trying to catch a cheating spouse? It may take a week before the private investigator gets the evidence you need for the prenuptial agreement. Why does this take so long? Most cheaters try their best to cover their tracks, especially if they are afraid that their affair has been compromised. They may cool it for a few days or try to throw anyone watching off their scent by doing out of the ordinary scheduling.

A good private investigator is going to charge at the very least $100 per hour for surveillance work. More established firms, especially those with reputations of getting surveillance completed in record time, will be able to charge their clients a lot more per hour.

Asset Location Services

Depending on the type of assets you are trying to unearth, you could be looking at a flat-rate or an hourly rate, most of which is dependant on your PI firm. Asset location can be crucial in different types of cases. Pricing is often reflective of the type of job you are requesting.

With the understanding that people lie, especially about what they are worth, it is safe to assume that if you are hiring a private detective in a case where another party’s assets should be disclosed to the court. You believe they exist but can’t find them. Private investigators with unique skill sets know how to follow hidden trails and mounds of paperwork, often uncovering the assets you expected and maybe even more.

Since pricing is determined on a job-to-job basis, providing even an estimate is hard. The lower end of the spectrum would be cases where someone believes they may have an inheritance that has been swept under the rug and escalates to hidden assets that could be used in family law proceedings.

Expert Testimony

One thing that a licensed private investigator can do that a regular civilian off the street cannot provide is specialized and expert testimony in court. Private investigators are often considered experts in their given specialty. When they do a job, they are likely to become the testimony needed to help sway the court in your favor.

To have a private investigator be your expert testimony in the courtroom, it is often a minimum billing of ten hours. Courts are unpredictable. So are the testimony of those going before them, so compensation for time spent is factored into this. Hourly rates are indicative of the amount of expertise that the private investigator has. Expect the price range for this service to range from $150 per hour to $550 per hour, based on the level of expertise needed on the stand.

General Investagative Serivices

private investigation cost laGeneral investigations are another area where hourly-rates reign supreme in the private investigation services industry. Depending on the task you present, the low end of the spectrum for these jobs could run from $100 to $200 per hour. Higher levels of expertise could cost you a lot more. Even prices of up to $500 per hour have been reported. Keep this in mind, you are paying for expertise and results, not someone to pretend they are a super sleuth.

Discussing Fees and Retainers

When you find the private investigator that you are comfortable handling your case, your next step is to discuss the pricing and their fee schedule. Most of these private investigators will require a deposit or retainer upfront. This helps to cover costs for materials used in your case. Be wary of the ones who try to push you to pay the entire fee upfront. There should be a little give and take between both parties to ensure a level of trust.

Another quality of a good private investigator is the use of transparency in their fees and how they quote them. Find someone who is willing to provide you with a breakdown and discusses changes with you prior to making them so that you aren’t surprised by unexpected fees.

Kay & Associates – The Premier Choice for PI Work in LA

Licensed since 1992, Kay & Associates knows what it takes to get investigative work done. Our investigation team happens to be experts in their given specialties, allowing us to handle more cases for more clients and at industry appropriate pricing. We can handle cases that range from child custody to criminal investigations and everything in between.

Kay & Associates provides new clients with a free 15-minute consultation call to discuss the type of investigations needed. Want to find out more information on what we can do for you? We can also be reached through email and our online contact form found on our website. If you need a private investigator for any reason, contact us and see how we can help you with our variety of services.