A private detective, a private investigator, or private questioning agent, is someone who may be employed by individuals, companies or NGOs to undertake private investigative services. Private detectives may work for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. They can also be private investigators, though not limited to this. They carry out investigations and document findings for legal professionals, other agents of the state, journalists, police officers and other authorized personnel. They may also be commissioned by the government to serve in this capacity on their own.
Today, private detectives perform investigative and surveillance activities in all sorts of fields, including business and corporate practices, insurance, investment, public safety, private investigation and pre-employment screening among others. Some private detectives may specialize in a particular area, such as human resource practices, corporate finance, fraud detection, or forensics. Many private detectives also specialize in one or more areas of investigation. They may be employed by the military, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, insurance firms, and nonprofit organizations among others. In addition, private detectives may also work on a self-employed basis.
Private detectives provide a wide range of investigative services, which may include the following: conducting surveillance and/or surveillance operations; interviewing witnesses and suspects for criminal activity; performing investigative work under covert conditions; running background checks and financial investigations; and conducting private investigations for business purposes, such as when a business owner is suspects of fraud. It is important for detectives to be consistent, professional and on time. Their work should be organized and thorough, and they should maintain a professional demeanor at all times. They should conduct surveillance and/or surveillance operations in a safe working environment. They should conduct discreet investigations only in areas that have no known association with legitimate business concerns.
When conducting investigations, detectives use any means at their disposal, including undercover officers, lie detectors, video cameras, and GPS tracking devices. They may also use confidential sources to gather information, such as credit card numbers, bank account information and other personally identifying information. As mentioned above, detectives are responsible for maintaining a professional and courteous relationship with their subjects. In order to do so, detectives must maintain a consistent and diligent pace and follow established procedures when collecting information or evidence for the case they are investigating.
Private detectives often investigate crimes committed in other states. To collect evidence from detectives in other states, detectives must make phone calls to the state police department to verify facts contained within the police report and to verify the name and address of the person who reported the incident. In many instances, detectives also interview witnesses and victims to obtain additional information and interview them about their memory of the event. This procedure is also useful when detectives need to conduct surveillance on a person who is believed to be visiting another state. Private detectives may use the Internet and their telephone books to search for possible internet sites frequented by the suspected suspect. For example, if the detective suspects that an individual has frequented online websites where child pornography is offered, he or she can make phone calls to those companies to obtain e-mail addresses and other identifying information.
Private detectives require several years of experience in the field in which they specialize in order to properly conduct a thorough investigation. Prior to becoming an investigator, the detective should have completed at least two years in the criminal justice field. Detective experience is helpful because it allows a detective to learn different methods of investigation and how they apply to a specific case. Prior to becoming an investigator, a detective should take several years to become proficient in the area of law enforcement, forensics and computer crime investigation.
Private detectives have several options for investigating a case. detectives may perform investigative surveillance. In this type of investigation, a detective contacts the subject involved and performs a discreet, anonymous background investigation to obtain additional information. A private investigator may also utilize digital surveillance. In this type of investigation, the investigator obtains images from a computer through remote access and uses special software to review the captured data.
Private detectives typically work with an attorney. Depending on the nature of the case, attorneys may not be able to work directly with private detectives due to privacy laws. Therefore, many detectives work with an agency that requires them to be licensed by the state in which they work. This license is generally specific to the state in which the private detective operates. Private investigators must meet a number of licensing requirements in order to ensure that they are qualified to work as investigators and retain their current licenses after being hired to work for a private investigation agency.