The Legal Boundaries: Are There Any Situations in Which a Private Investigator Can Overstep the Law?

private investigator | The Legal Boundaries: Are There Any Situations in Which a Private Investigator Can Overstep the Law? | Private investigators are helpful and provide information for clients. When investigating any individual, the private investigator collects images, recordings, and documentation that is often used in court cases. However, the investigators don’t have the same authority as law enforcement officers. When hiring a private investigator, it is vital to know what situations indicate that the private investigator has overstepped the law.

All Private Investigators Must Have a License

State licenses are required for all private investigators, and any investigator who provides services without proper licensing is violating the law. When hiring a private investigator, it is paramount for prospective clients to review the investigator’s credentials and ensure that the investigator is licensed. A review of the current state laws helps clients determine what credentials are needed to offer private investigative services. To learn more about private investigative services, prospective clients review options from right now.

Placing a Subject in a Dangerous Situation

Placing a subject in a dangerous situation violates state and federal laws. It is unlawful for a private investigator to collect information about a subject for another individual who has a history of stalking the subject of the investigation. A private investigator must do their due diligence and determine if the client poses a threat to the subject and/or the client has a protection order against them. If the subject of an investigation is harmed due to information provided by the investigator, the private investigator is subject to criminal charges and could face jail time and hefty fines. The subject of the investigation or their family also has the grounds to file a civil lawsuit against the investigator.

Using a Wiretap or Spyware to Collect Information from Cellular Devices

Using a wiretap or spyware to collect information from a cellular device or landline leads to criminal charges against the private investigator, too. The subject of the investigation must provide consent for the wiretap or the use of spyware. For example, if the client believes their spouse is cheating, the client has the right to give consent to tap the landline, but the client cannot give consent to use spyware on their spouse’s cellular device or smartphone unless the client owns the devices personally.

Impersonating Any Law Enforcement Officer

Impersonating any law enforcement officer at any time violates state and federal laws. It doesn’t matter for whatever reason the investigator made the conscious choice to commit the act. Impersonating an officer is still a serious crime, and the private investigator could go to prison for the offense depending on what type of officer the investigator impersonated.

Breaking and Entering

Breaking and entering is still a crime even for a private investigator. Law enforcement officers cannot enter any property without a warrant or probable cause, and a private investigator doesn’t have the authority to serve a warrant or investigate a crime inside any property without consent from the owner.

Filming a Subject Inside Private Property

Filming a subject inside a private property introduces a charge for invasion of privacy and potentially stalking. A private investigator has the legal right to film the subject of the investigation in public only.

Private investigators offer critical evidence required in a divorce, criminal, and other cases. However, when conducting the investigations, the investigator cannot break the law to secure the evidence. According to state and federal laws, if an investigator obtains evidence illegally, the evidence is not admissible by most courts.