The Internet is filled with private investigators promising the world when it comes to civil, criminal, corporate and insurance cases related to the public. Ethical business practices, good character and a sound reputation separate good private investigators from those on every street corner.
To gain peace of mind in selecting the right private investigator, start by making sure the investigator is licensed and in good standing with the state where she/he is licensed. Another sign of credibility is when the investigator has an office as opposed to meeting clients in a coffee shop or bar. Having an office does not make one a good private investigator but it provides clients with a better measure of confidence and the ability to know they can return to a designated place if the wheels come off the investigation.
While private investigators are not officially held to an attorney-client or doctor-patient level of confidentiality, a good private investigator will honor this practice. Ensuring your privacy and best interests are attributes of an investigator with integrity and high standards of professionalism. Demand that your private investigator prepare any and all reports to your attorney of record to ensure the integrity of the attorney-client relationship. If you have no attorney of record, use the corporate attorney of record for the private investigation firm as an alternative.
It’s critical to know the depth of the private investigator’s experience. Education, law enforcement background, technical expertise and years of professional practice as well as a solid record of well-conducted cases are important factors to note. For example, private investigators with a law enforcement or federal agent background know the system and how to work within its guidelines and procedures. They can produce evidence or other legal materials that will hold up in court. They are also prepared to testify in support of the evidence. Make sure the investigator you retain is considered an expert in the federal, state or local court systems. If not, choose another investigative agency.
Selecting a private investigator by referral from a trusted friend is advantageous. If this is not possible, you need to prepare a list of prospective private investigators. Law enforcement agencies can be contacted to refer recently retired officers who have established a solid track record as private investigators. Well-known attorneys specializing in the particular area of law you are engaging in are also a dependable resource. Do not hesitate to contact the clerks of the court, bailiffs and other court personnel to inquire about investigators they might use in the given legal situation you are facing.
To learn more about selecting the right private investigator, click “here” to read Chapter 16 of my book, If You Only Knew.