A very good question to ask is, what happens if you hire a private detective and they know the person they are investigating? We will answer that question when we talk briefly about ethics and the private investigator.
If you were to hire a private investigator, and they agreed to conduct an investigation against someone they know, this would be highly unethical. Private investigators must uphold laws, follow regulations and ensure they have high ethics. Should the private investigator not tell their client that they know the subject of the investigation and proceed to take the matter on, they would be violating basic ethics that could cause many problems for your personal, legal or business matter.
So You Are Going to Hire a Private Investigator…
There is a lot to consider when you are about to hire a private investigator. Such as, is the investigator local to me? Should I even hire a private investigator? What type of private investigator should I hire to follow someone?
All good questions and we will focus on the ethics of hiring a licensed private investigator, specifically, “What happens if I hire a private investigator and they know the person I hired them to watch?”
Why Private InvestIgators Spy on a Person
Why in the world do private detectives spy on people? Is spying the proper term to call it when a P.I. watches a person? Is it legal to spy?
Private investigators don’t spy. Spying is espionage, and unless someone is hired to steal secrets that belong to a government or company, they are not a spy.
Private investigators do watch people among other investigative duties. We place them under surveillance. We observe their conduct, behavior, associations, activities and routines. This is lawful, if you are a state licensed private investigator.
So, Why Do Private Investigators Place a Person Under Surveillance?
To answer that, we have to understand the clients motive. Why do they want to hire a private investigator to watch someone? Are they an employer, insurance company, loved one or law firm? What is the lawful reason someone would have to place a person under observation or surveillance?
There are many reasons that are legal for a private investigator to conduct surveillance. Here are a few:
Why Private Investigators Follow Someone?
If you have an insurance claim, there is a chance a private investigator has been hired to see if your claim has merit or if the truth was stretched in order to obtain monetary gain.
If your partner suspects your integrity is in question, they may hire a private investigator to watch you and see if you really are being unfaithful.
Loved One Is Concerned For Your Well Being
Sometimes private investigators are hired to watch someone that a family member wants to know more about. This is often due to a strain in the family and the client member wants to know the other is okay.
Your Employer Thinks You are Being Deceitful
Perhaps you are telling your employer you are sick, but aren’t really. Or, perhaps you are being investigated by your employer to see if you are working, if working remotely.
Ethical Considerations and The Private Investigator
There are many ethical landmines a private investigator must navigate. In a business where there is the need for black and white, there are still many gray areas. Considering what is the right thing to do when a private investigator encounters a gray area is the name of the game.
Private investigations is much like many other professionally licensed careers. Examples are Certified Public Accountants, Lawyers, Engineers and various businesses that face tough ethical dilemmas. And, much like these professions, when faced with a question one has to first look at their own moral compass, applicable laws, and even case studies.
Does the investigation pass muster as it relates to ethics. Have I completed a conflict check?
What Does a Private Investigator Do When They Know the Person You Hired?
This brief article has given you a bit of background as to what is a legal surveillance, why surveillance is carried out and has brought us to the point of the private investigator and ethical considerations.
When you initiate a conversation with a private investigator you trust you should lay everything out there. You should share why you are hiring the detective, what you want the detective to do and who the detective is investigating.
The licensed P.I. should then ensure that your reason for hiring a private investigator is ethical. If that passes muster then the agent should look at the logistics of the investigation such as human resource, expenses – while ensuring they are working within the client’s budget.
The big factor, though, is this: Is there a conflict of interest with me conducting this investigation?
The Conflict of Interest and The Private Investigator
Sounds like a book title, doesn’t it? But, private investigators have a duty to ensure they are not messing the case up for the client. Can you imagine should a private investigator be called to testify on a surveillance case, and the court finds out that you knew the person you were watching? Your testimony would be thrown out the window!
Private investigators, like anyone else, know if you said “Watch John Doe, he is 32 years old and lives in San Francisco” if that person would ring a bell. Also, much of the case management software that a PI uses has conflict checking mechanisms to ensure this kind of thing does not happen.
Should a Private Investigator Follow Someone They Know?
No. It is unethical and a poor decision on behalf of the client should they agree to take on such an investigation.
If a private investigator would do such a thing, they likely will do anything to make a buck — including lying to the client and goodness knows probably lie to their own mother.
Ask a private investigator that you hire to conduct a conflict check. Don’t allow someone to investigate someone they know. It can totally waste the money you have budgeted for the investigation (sometimes thousands of dollars) and leave you where you started. This is especially true if your matter goes before any court, is in discovery, or ends up in mediation.
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