A private investigator, private detective, investigation agent or private investigator, is someone who is able to be employed by people, organizations or NGOs to undertake investigative duties. Private investigators often work independently for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. They may be appointed as an independent consultant by the police or the military. They may also be self-employed and own their own firm.
Private detectives undertake investigations for clients, whether individuals or businesses. They may be hired to carry out discreet surveillance activities, such as conducting telephone or computer surveillance, or conducting secret follow-up visits to corporate or private buildings. They may also be hired to conduct discreet searches of people, residences, offices or vehicles. In some countries, private investigators are also invited to perform immigration status checks on behalf of the Government. In order to obtain private investigators’ services, businesses and other organizations generally require them to have a legal business license.
Private detectives usually need to gather evidence from witnesses or suspects. To accomplish this, they employ a number of surveillance tactics, such as secretly watching people as they speak with each other, monitoring body language of people while they interact with each other, secretly video taping meetings or conferences, tracking the activities of employees and visiting locations that are frequented by the subjects of an investigation. They may also use hidden cameras or GPS tracking devices to gather evidence from a computer system or cell phone, in order to determine the location and activity of a person, even if that person is in another state at the time.
Most private detectives use many different surveillance tools in their investigations. Among the most common methods used by private detectives include secretly video taping phone conversations, installing GPS trackers in vehicles and using secret cameras to photograph items, such as computers, printers and office supplies. Additionally, private detectives may use cell phones to monitor the activity of their subjects, secretly keeping records of all telephone calls made and any other information discovered during investigations. Many private detectives use aliases and different handles to prevent their real face from being revealed during investigations.
There are several reasons why private detectives use many different tactics to gather evidence for investigations. One reason is to protect the subject of an investigation. If an individual is accused of a crime, it is important to have any and all information on that person and its whereabouts at the time of the alleged offense. With today’s technology, private detectives use many of these tools to get that information before any charges are filed.
Another reason why investigators use so many tools to gather evidence comes from criminal justice agencies. If a computer forensic specialist is hired to investigate a case, the specialist may be asked to perform a forensic exam on the computer systems and/or hard drives of both suspects and/or co-defendants. Doing an electronic search of data files on a computer or a cell phone can provide investigators with valuable evidence to present in court. In order for private detectives to do this, they must have access to any and all information relevant to the case. Sometimes private detectives must work closely with the criminal justice agency in order to get a warrant to conduct a computer forensic examination.
Private detectives also may be hired to conduct interviews of individuals who may be suspecting themselves of being involved in a crime. Many employers now offer many services to check the background of potential employees. Some of those services include pre-employment background checks. Hiring managers want to make sure that the people they hire are not likely to commit crimes in the future. For this reason, they will often enlist the help of private detectives to conduct interviews of possible employees.
Private detectives may also be hired to follow individuals that violate the law. These include bounty hunters, cigarette cutters, and sex offenders. Bounty hunters are often employed by bail bondsmen to find people that skipped out on their bail. Bounty hunters often operate independently. Private investigators may also be employed by bail bondsmen, but they often contract to work directly for the bail bond company under state regulations.