The Job of a Private Investigator

Many people wonder what the work of a private investigator is and how they might differ from police. Many questions revolve around do’s and don’ts associated with being a private investigator.


What Is The Job of a Private Investigator? What Can They Do and Not Do?


Here are some of the things you should know about a private investigator. This article will help you separate a real P.I. from a fictional one.

First, one might ask if it is actually legal to hire a private investigator. The answer is YES, but the work of a private investigator is also surrounded by boundaries of law. There are things that a private investigator is allowed to do and others that they are not.

  1. Can a private investigator act as a law enforcer? 

The answer is NO. A P.I. is not the police, and therefore cannot present themselves as law enforcement. This is unlawful and would be treated as impersonation. A P.I. is also not above the law and neither are private investigation companies related to any government agency such as special branches. A private investigator is not a secret agent and cannot make arrests.

  1. Are there limits when doing surveillance?

YES, there are limits to surveillance. It is legal to follow subject in public places but completely illegal to invade their privacy without their consent. It is generally trespassing and punishable by law. A P.I. should seek permission to make their investigation on private property or in a way that does not invade privacy. If denied, they should seek a way that is acceptable by law to handle the situation. Wiring and tapping during surveillance in a way that invades privacy is also wrong. There is a level of privacy that is entitled to a human being and it should remain that way unless the law grants permission to overcome that.

  1. Can evidence from a private investigator be used in a court of law?

It definitely CAN. The right steps should be followed though, because remember that the P.I. is NOT a law enforcer. If it is felt that a given person has broken the law, then it should be reported and all evidence found during the private investigation would come in handy in the court room.

Another myth that frequently pops up, especially with movie enthusiasts, is that a PI is supposed to be an action hero or something of the sort. A private investigator is a hero in the sense that they can help you resolve important issues, but their days are not set to be as action packed as you might see in a movie. They usually do not carry guns around or follow dangerous criminals. That is more often the work of the police. It is therefore necessary that you know what a private investigator can do for you before hiring one. Do not expect a private investigator to break the law for you. While they are in an important line of work, it is important to be realistic and set expectations before seeking out the help of a private investigation professional.