Investigators are professionals licensed by the state in which they practice to perform investigations in all legal matters. They are vetted prior to being allowed to be perform investigations.
There are several questions you should ask an investigator and some of them will vary based on the type of investigation you’re interested in. You should always ask how much experience they have in the type of investigation you are looking for. You should also ask if they have handled your type of investigation.
In the majority of cases investigators will charge an hourly rate. Hourly rates are based on the type of investigation needed. Some types of cases may call for a simple flat rate. It is best to discuss your case with the investigator and at that point question the rate. It is unlikely you will find an investigator who will do just one or two hours of investigative work. Additionally investigators will charge for travel time, mileage tolls and expenses. In most cases a retainer agreement is required for the consumer protection as well as the investigators protection.
Private investigators have access to several information databases that are not available to the general public. But more importantly they have the training and experience needed to transform the raw data into actionable information. To list all of the advantages of using a experienced private investigator is outside of the scope of this website is the information to fill a bucket or two. But the main point comes down to judgments made from experience. (Ask your investigator how many years of experience they have) most investigators have thousands if not tens of thousands of hours of experience working on investigations. Some surveillance consists of sitting on hours and and/or becoming mobile taking pictures and driving behind someone! The downside of course is when you get caught or confronted by the police you can get injured or into serious trouble. Doing this investigation yourself could become dangerous and lose the very valuable element of surprise. Through experience and training investigators know when to drop off to save the integrity of the investigation and preserve the element of surprise.
There are several types of and reasons for surveillance. But the key principles are the same for most types of surveillance.
The objective is normally to keep tabs on an individual or groups of individuals and determine/document the activities. With this in mind the investigator will locate a discrete surveillance position where the activities can be monitored while still allowing for continued surveillance if the target departs there are a lot of factors the investigator will have to consider while selecting the surveillance position including what not limited to:
Most likely route of departure
Neighborhood (will the surveillance vehicle be noticed by neighbors)
How close can the investigator get without target noticing?
How many routes of departure are there.
An experienced investigator will inform you with additional investigators are needed to conduct a surveillance. This is common in areas where on street parking is limited or not practical or there are several logical ways out of a neighborhood. One experienced investigator can handle most surveillances but it is important to listen to an investigator when they say more than one is needed in order to save money in the long run. Additionally, in urban areas where the target is likely to take public transportation or be dropped off/picked up by an individual the success rate is drastically increased when more than one investigator is on the case
When conducting surveillance on a spouse or partner, the private investigator will first determine the best schedule for surveillance with you. In some cases investigators may break up the time as an example from 6 AM to 9 AM and if nothing occurs them back on a second trip and work the case from 9 to 12 and so on until a pattern is established.
It is also important not to interfere with the investigation. This includes driving past the area performing checks on your own. As tempting as this may be, it can ruin a surveillance if your vehicle is noticed by the other party. Additionally it can put your safety and the safety of investigators at risk.
For this reason in many retainer contracts it sets out that you are not allowed to be in the area that is under surveillance. This is also why most investigators will not provide updates while on surveillance as it often is construed as an invitation for trouble.
NO. Investigators cannot legally obtain phone/tax records are emails from a non consenting person. Regardless of if the person is a spouse or child they have certain expectation of privacy. If these records are obtained illegally not only are they not admissible in court but could result in heavy fines or imprisonment. Any investigator that would jeopardize his career and livelihood to obtain such records is probably not licensed and experienced to begin with. If you need these records it is highly recommended to speak with an attorney and obtain a subpoena for the records desired.
Private private investigators just like doctors and lawyers may specialize in a certain part of the field and may have additional certifications and experiences in addition to being a private investigator. It is important that you make sure the private investigator you hire is relevant experience to what you are hiring them for.
Almost all states require several years of experience either in law enforcement or in a related field such as security or fraud investigations in corporate or special investigative units within the insurance industry. To qualify for a private investigators license a background check is completed and the person must have no felony convictions or pending charges. Certain misdemeanors will also disqualify an individual from working as a private investigator.
Although private investigators have access to information the general public cannot obtain, they must obey the same basic laws as ordinary citizens. Some big things they can’t do:
Pose as law enforcement officers or clergy
Obtain cell phone records or bank records via pre-texting
Investigators have access to a wide array of public and private databases. Some of these databases are tied to government information including motor vehicle information property records etc. These databases are just one of the many tools that a private investigator as available to assist in completing investigations.
Some investigators can respond to a surveillance request within a couple of hours from receiving the first phone call (with retainer payment) while others may need day’s if not weeks. It is important to remember that although you have questions that you want answered quickly, the success of an investigation is greatly improved when a thorough and detailed pre-surveillance interview with the client is conducted. Investigator may also want to inspect the area where the surveillance is going to take place. (initial inspection). This allows the investigator to formulate a plan to ensure the correct resources and the manpower are available to execute the investigation or surveillance as smoothly as possible.
The answer to this varies based on the type of investigation requested. Most investigations are billed by the hour and are not contingent on a certain outcome.
To search out and examine the particulars of in an attempt to learn the facts about something hidden, unique, or complex, especially in an attempt to find a motive cause or culprit.
This does not mean an investigator will know the outcome of the investigation.
Depending on the type of investigation, generally speaking investigations all begin with obtaining background on the situation then perform research and obtaining records and documents that may be useful in the investigation and in some cases forming initial inspections surveillance and reporting to the client.
Yes/No. Some agencies are strictly local while others are nationwide and yet others even worldwide. For example S and H investigators has worked statewide, nationwide and worldwide. They have testified in the High Court of London England and performed investigations and traveled worldwide. Many investigators have associations where they stay current through seminars and update on current laws as well as meetings associates that they share work with.