Is It Illegal to Hire a Private Investigator to Follow Someone?

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Melody Merit

In today’s world, the need for information and truth has led to the rise of various professions, one of which is private investigation. Private investigators (PIs) are often hired to uncover hidden facts, verify information, or follow individuals for various reasons. However, the legality of hiring a private investigator to follow someone is a topic that raises numerous questions and concerns1234.

General Rule: Is It Illegal to Hire a Private Investigator to Follow Someone?

To answer this question directly: No, it is not illegal to hire a private investigator3. However, it’s important to note that while hiring a PI is legal, the activities they engage in must be within the confines of the law12. In general, it is not illegal to hire a private investigator3. Anyone can hire a PI to help bring the truth to light1. However, a PI has no legal authority over any other citizen. They cannot arrest, detain, prosecute, or fine anyone1. They are, however, trained and licensed to carry out private detective work within the confines of the law12.

What Does a Private Investigator Do?

Private investigators are often retained by their clients to tail crime suspects or individuals believed to have been involved in unethical activities1. Their work involves searching, researching, and carrying out surveillance on a target within the legal confines of the law1. They possess the appropriate tools, resources, and expertise to assess and analyze the information they collect on a target and pick up on any inconsistencies that may raise red flags1.

Legal Boundaries for Private Investigators

While PIs have a certain degree of freedom in their operations, they are bound by the same laws as ordinary citizens12. For instance, they cannot break into private property to obtain evidence of wrongdoing1. Any evidence they obtain unlawfully is inadmissible in a court of law1. If they are found to have broken the law to recover the evidence in question, they may face legal repercussions1.

Who Can Hire a Private Investigator?

Private investigator services are open to everyone1. Anyone can hire a PI to help bring the truth to light1. However, it’s important to note that a private investigator has no legal authority over any other citizen1. They cannot arrest, detain, prosecute, or fine anyone1. They are, however, trained and licensed to carry out private detective work1.

When Is It Illegal?

While it’s not illegal to hire a PI, there are certain circumstances where their actions or the intentions of the person hiring them could cross legal boundaries2. For example, you cannot hire a private investigator to look into individuals, companies, or any other entities out of simple curiosity or formulated conspiracy theories1. This is especially important when retaining a PI to carry out comprehensive background checks or asset searches1.

In conclusion, while it is not illegal to hire a private investigator to follow someone, both the PI and the person hiring them must ensure that all activities are conducted within the bounds of the law. Any actions that infringe upon a person’s rights or break the law can lead to legal consequences1234.

Hiring a private investigator (PI) is a decision often made to uncover information that is otherwise difficult to obtain. PIs are professionals who are skilled in gathering facts, conducting surveillance, and providing detailed reports while adhering to legal and ethical boundaries12. However, the legality of hiring a PI to follow someone is not a straightforward matter and depends on several factors.

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 Exceptions to the General Rule: Is It Illegal to Hire a Private Investigator to Follow Someone?

1. Invasion of Privacy

While PIs are allowed to gather information, they must respect privacy laws. They are not permitted to break into private property to obtain evidence of wrongdoing1. Any evidence they obtain unlawfully is inadmissible in a court of law1.

2. Trespassing

PIs must exercise caution when entering another person’s property. A fine line exists between trespassing and breaking and entering, which the PI must walk carefully2. In most situations, permission is required from the owner of a property before the PI can enter the premises2.

3. Wiretapping

In many jurisdictions, it is illegal for a PI to wiretap a phone call without the consent of at least one individual involved in the conversation2. Without this consent, PIs risk breaking the law and being charged with a crime2.

4. Access to Bank Records

PIs are not usually able to legally obtain bank records unless they are working with an attorney2. They often leverage their research expertise to access and manipulate public databases to access the information they need2.

5. Harassment or Stalking

PIs should avoid following people too closely or engaging in other behavior that could be construed as harassment or invasion of privacy4. This can lead to legal repercussions4.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. Do private investigators need to be licensed? Yes, in most states, a private investigator’s license is required for someone operating as a PI to perform his or her duties.
  2. Can I hire someone who is just good at following someone or using the internet? While you can hire such a person, they are likely breaking the law if they are not a licensed PI5.
  3. Is there a difference between a private investigator and a private detective? No, the terms “private investigator” and “private detective” are often used interchangeably5.
  4. Do private investigators have police powers? No, private investigators do not have police powers, and in most cases, private investigators do not have any more power than the average citizen does5.
  5. What can a private investigator not get legally? A private investigator cannot legally obtain private credit information of an individual or financial and telephone records5.

Please note that the laws regarding private investigators can vary from state to state and country to country. Always consult with a legal professional or a licensed private investigator to understand the specific laws applicable in your area.

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