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5 Misconceptions About Private Investigation

Movies and television shows tend to sensationalize the lives and work of private investigators. They depict them as people who lead incredibly exciting lives full of mysteries to solve and action to be taken. While this may be true for some private detectives, the idea that their days center on adrenaline isn’t necessarily true. Private eyes, just like the average human being, are subject to the law. Below is a list of five of the most common misconceptions about private investigation.

  1. They have the power to make legal arrests. Private detectives do not have the same authoritative power as the police. They do, however, have the ability to file for permission to make an arrest. They can also make a citizen’s arrest if they witness the commission of a crime.

  2. They can access banking information. Bank account information is strictly confidential. In order to uncover such information, a legal subpoena is required. Private investigators can identify some information such as which bank a person is affiliated with, but they won’t be able to investigate any further without permission from the account holder or a court order.

  3. They are able to record telephone conversations without consent. Private detectives do not have the ability to wiretap phones unless they have obtained permission directly from the court. They are not permitted to monitor telephones or record conversations without consent from the concerned party. Depending on the state or province, wiretapping laws differ and may allow for one party’s consent in order to implement a wiretap.

  4. They may trespass on other people’s property. Without legal consent, a private investigator is not allowed to enter private property. Although private eyes do a lot of surveillance and may follow other people around, they must secure permission from authorities before entering other people’s house, property or building. If they don’t abide by this rule, they may be accused of breaking and entering.

  5. They can access phone records and similar confidential information. Phone records are privileged communications. In order for a private investigator to get a hold of a person’s phone records, they would need to obtain a subpoena and the permission of the party concerned. Other confidential information that they can not easily obtain are credit information, hospital records, court documents and criminal records.