A private investigator, an investigator or private detective, is someone who may be employed by people, institutions or NGOs to undertake investigative services. Private investigators also work for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. Private investigation can be done by hiring a private investigator or a private detective. Private investigators may use different forms of methods and techniques to carry out their job. Here are some common ways used by private investigators:
Tracking missing persons A private investigator might help you in finding your missing loved one or child. Tracking missing persons is one of the most important jobs for private investigators. They use different techniques and methods like doing personal investigation or conducting thorough research to track missing persons. In case of missing persons, there is great need to find out the exact location from where such person has taken off. This can be done using GPS, wireless GPS tracking or other tracking techniques. A private investigator can help you in getting the right information about the whereabouts of missing persons using any of the techniques or methodologies.
Background checks A private investigator might help you in conducting extensive background checks on potential employees, volunteers, candidates, tenants and so on. Conducting background checks can reveal details about a person’s past, present and possible activities in the future. Due diligence helps in the identification of a suitable candidate and helps avoid discrimination. This helps in avoiding problems like job rejection, insurance claims rejection, rental and leasing contracts rejection and so on.
Legal Research and Citation Needed The most common tasks performed by private investigators include obtaining court files and/or records, performing research and analysis on legal matters, locating missing persons, and conducting background checks. It is not mandatory for private investigators to have a law degree. However, the level of experience and training does matter. Private investigators with a law degree are expected to have better training and to have more experience than those who don’t have a law degree.
Research and Analysis Private investigators are also involved in providing reports and other related services on subjects including crime, human resources, business, litigation, technology, immigration, public safety and health. The scope of a private investigation or background investigation varies from case to case depending on the focus of the activity. Private investigators use various types of surveillance tools and techniques to conduct investigations and provide reports to their clients.
Investigation of Law Enforcement (LED) is another type of investigation that is performed by private investigators. LED is an acronym for “Law enforcement private investigators”. These private investigators investigate crimes that happen in the area of state or federal jurisdiction. Federal offenses like bank robbery, tax frauds, drug trafficking are under the purview of state police department whereas state crimes such as DUI and sexual abuse are under the purview of state police force. In other words, state law enforcement private investigators provide reports and evidence collected in federal jurisdiction and federal offenses.
Surveillance Some private investigators may also perform surveillance of individuals for the purpose of gathering evidence for prosecution of a suspect. For example, they monitor the activities of employees of a corporate firm to determine whether the workers engaged in any criminal activities. They may also monitor the activities of tenants of a building to ensure that the tenants maintain the standard of living that is customary for the building. Surveillance may include the use of video cameras, GPS trackers, cell phones or other electronic devices to gather evidence or to discover information from a computer server.
Licensing Requirements – Private investigators fall under the state government’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG). To be entitled to practice as an investigator in California, the applicant needs to pass the California Private Investigators Liability Certificate (LIC). Information on the Licensing Requirements can be obtained from the OAG. Private investigators are subject to examinations conducted by the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) to become licensed. To become a member of NALI, an individual must work for two years in the private investigation field and complete five years of supervised courses and work experience.