I decided that the best place to start with my writings is with something I like to call the 30,000 foot view. This is going to be more of a broad view post. My goal is to educate you in my profession. In future blog posts, I will do some writing about specific scenarios and show how a Private Investigator would most likely handle a particular scenario in the real world. However for now, it is best to start with a broad view of the world of Private Investigating.
Get Hollywood out of your head. Anything you see on TV or movies about what Private Investigators do is usually completely false. Also, get Sherlock Holmes out of your head. Eccentric geniuses don’t usually help Police solve crimes. It simply does not work that way. The majority of Private Investigating involves catching cheaters and liars, point blank. We work in civil matters. So far, the majority of my business has come from lawyers. When a lawyer has a client that needs to prove something in court, I get a call.
The types of cases I have worked range from Adultery to Child Custody situations to Integrity checks. What I mean by “Integrity check” is just a term that I use when a Client wants to have confirmation on a person’s activities. Mainly just to see if they are telling the truth about whatever it is they may be doing. I have also worked Harassment cases where the Client, or someone the Client knows, is being harassed at work or home. In these situations, it has usually reached the point that the Police or someone of authority has already been notified but cannot do anything without proof.
For the most part, we are not involved in Criminal cases. I have been asked a strange question repeatedly. “So are you like, a cop?” No. Just because the title of my job has “Investigator” in it, does not mean I am law enforcement. Law enforcement has their own trained Detectives. The DA does not go around looking for Private Investigators to hire. If I find myself involved in a criminal case, I would most likely be working for the defense. It is just that simple. Private Investigators work for a private party that decides to hire someone like me.
Being a Private Investigator does NOT mean that I have a magic license that allows me to break the law. We have to follow all laws and regulations as a regular civilian. Also, there are a set of laws that govern this profession (at least this is true in North Carolina) which you can read in North Carolina General Statute 74C. I urge my readers to look up this General Statute and the Subchapters. Keep in mind; this covers all Private Protective Services not just Private Investigators.
Should you decide to look at the NC General Statute, make sure you go to the paragraphs pertaining to Private Investigators and not any of the other professions that the statute covers. We cannot trespass; break into people’s homes or businesses, setup third party bugs to listen in on conversations, etc. That is all Hollywood garbage. A Private Investigator is simply a silent witness, and by law we have to report the truth, even if it is not what the client wants to hear.
I have had to explain this last part many times to clients or potential clients. I know the next question. So then why don’t I just go and do this myself? Picture this. You decided to NOT hire a PI and you want to find proof of a person doing something, anything. Now you find yourself in court, having to prove this. Do you think whatever you found would be admissible in court? Not likely. When you are involved in the case (either as Plaintiff or Defendant) whatever you find will probably not be trusted as evidence. You have a bias in the situation. Any good lawyer on the other side can easily argue that anything you found would be manipulated and not the truth. Not to even mention if you are trying to do this on your own, you are most likely to get spotted very quickly and that individual that you were trying to “catch,” just became ten-fold harder to “catch.” By contrast, a report by a Private Investigator is much more likely to be seen in court as an unbiased observer fulfilling legally required procedures.
In closing, Private Investigators are a hired set of eyes. We are a silent witness. By law I have to report the entire truth as I find it. Private Investigators have no stake or bias in a case, and we have to follow applicable laws and regulations just like everybody else. However, we do have tools that are not easily or readily available to regular civilians that help us do our job. More on that later. In later posts I will dive in to my experience, some tactics, and real life scenarios that will hopefully paint a full picture of what being a Private Investigator really means.