When you think of private investigators, the first few individuals to come into your mind may very well be Sam Spade or Sherlock Holmes.
Unfortunately, these are fictional characters.
Private investigators in the real world are quite different than those fictional characters, and their job is different as well.
Private investigators are not just individuals who decide to start investigating and call themselves private investigators. Just like police officers, detectives, lawyers and soldiers, a private investigator models his operation in compliance with the law. They use legal methods to look for evidence.
Here’s a closer look at precisely what private investigators do:
Even though a private investigator does not have the ability to legally detain, question, or interrogate people, s/he can still do lots of investigation on a person; pull his or her background, find associates, find past criminal records, relationships, education and the person’s activities.
Private investigators may also employ digital tools to find information about their target; they can even do surveillance in a number of situations.
Whenever its necessary they will go undercover in order to get more information on a suspect. A PI may follow (or trail) a suspect, particularly if photographic evidence is required.
One thing to keep in mind is that a PI does not solve crimes; let’s not misunderstand this. Rather, a private investigator does the job of gathering evidence and reporting back to his or her client.
A private investigator is expected to always act within the rule of law. Doing that is very important to ensure that all the evidence will be deemed valid when it is presented in a legal context.
This process entails investigating current employees, and carrying out fact finding assignments. A private investigator will conduct extensive surveillance to identify issues such as absenteeism, fraud, misconduct, etc.
Small to medium size companies often give up on these issues because they don’t have the resources to monitor their employees. A PI can save these businesses time and money by gathering all the facts and working with a company’s HR department which will ultimately enforce measures to prevent re-occurrences.
A person that suspects his or her partner of infidelity can hire a private investigator. A private investigator is hired to follow and discreetly watch an individual suspected of cheating. The private investigators will then bring forth real evidence that enables the victim to confront the wrongdoer with credible evidence.
Missing Person Investigation
In an issue were someone is missing, the police will surely do all within their power to search for the person or investigate leads that could provide information about a person’s whereabouts.
Police officers have limited resources. Time is one of them. If time goes by, and the case is “getting cold” they may have to focus in other cases and archive the current one as a cold case. This is a situation where a private investigator may be hired. The investigator will continue the investigation for as long as he or she is contracted to do so, or until the whereabouts of the missing person come to light.
Other Private Investigator’s duties and responsibilities are:
- Fraud Investigation, including Internet fraud
- Help recovering debts
- Tracing the backgrounds and parentage of adopted individuals
- Counter surveillance, including use of special equipment
- Uncovering evidence in child custody cases
- Investigating adultery incidences
- Process serving
- Interviewing of witnesses to a case