Often, when people hear the term, private investigators, they conjure up an image of a scruffy looking man wearing a raincoat or envision Sherlock Holmes, the infamous fictitious private detective. Some might picture that classic scene in Mission Impossible when Tom Cruise stealthily dropped down from the ceiling hanging by a cord (or was he a private investigator?)
There are many common misconceptions of what a private investigator can do. So before hiring a private investigator, familiarize yourself with some of the more common misconceptions:
- They can make legal arrests
In the U.S., private investigators are not authorized to make an arrest, per se, but they do have the ability to make a citizen’s arrest if need be. You can find an explanation about a citizen’s arrest here https://www.shouselaw.com/citizens-arrest.
- They can hack into social media or email accounts
Although it might seem like everyone can do this in 2019, it’s not something you will see done at the hands of a private investigator. Even if Jerry O’Connell might portray otherwise on the TV show Carter. PIs help to identify hackers; they are not involved with hacking activity, albeit they don’t want to spend time in prison.
- They can access bank and medical records
This misconception isn’t so black and white. Although PIs cannot access medical records, they can interview witnesses who are familiar with the patient/subject they are investigating. The latter allows them to tap into useful information about the subject’s medical history, helping to further the investigation. Private Investigators cannot access banks or any financial institutions.
- They can record conversations without consent
When a PI wants to record a covert conversation (without permission) they best check the laws in the state they are planning to record in. The law varies by state. For example, if you’re in Los Angeles California, you cannot record someone without their consent. However, should you be in New York, you can record someone without their permission. New York is known as a one-party State.
- They can trespass on other people’s property
As dramatic as it might appear in the movies, private investigators cannot break into someone’s home, car, office, or any place the person inhabits without the consent of that person. Private Investigators cannot read other people’s mail or take a person’s mail from their mailbox. However, if the private investigator wants to find some useful information on a subject, they can take their trash as long as the trash is outside at the curb waiting to be picked up. The right to privacy ends at the curb, according to a United States Supreme Court decision. Boy oh boy would you be amazed at what private investigators learn from someone’s trash.
Now that you’re informed about these common misconceptions, you will be way ahead of the game.
In Los Angeles, infidelity investigations are among the most common investigations requested by clients of Private Investigators. Other more common investigations have to do with surveillance investigations, civil and criminal investigations, and background investigations.
Set your expectations appropriately and know what you can legally find out. With the help of a qualified, reputable private investigator, you very well may learn the truth which can set you free.