Not All Private Investigators Are Created Equal
Hiring a private investigator is not as simple as running a quick Google search and calling the first phone number that comes up. Just as you’d advise any client looking to hire an attorney to conduct proper due diligence before picking a legal representative, it’s important that you do your research before picking a PI firm to help with your matter. Continue reading for a sample of questions you should ask any prospective PI firm before you agree to hire them for your case. In California and worldwide, you can count on Millennium Intelligence Agency for stellar, expert assistance.
Are They a Licensed Private Investigator?
California licenses private investigators through the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. While a professional license does not guarantee a stellar performance, it certainly sets minimum standards. Licensed investigators must have sufficient education and experience, including law or criminal justice degrees and/or thousands of hours of investigative experience or related work.
Additionally, licensed investigators must adhere to a professional code of conduct. They cannot break the law to get information, they cannot use threats or physical coercion, and they cannot unlawfully surveil targets. Hiring an unlicensed investigator opens you up to liability for anything that investigator does while acting as your agent, and even if they acquire evidence and information that you need, it’s possible that evidence won’t hold up in court.
What Is Their Level of Experience?
A licensed PI must have a minimum level of experience and/or a relevant degree. Before you hire a PI to work on your case, make sure you know just how much experience they’ve had. For a relatively simple case, you can hire someone with little experience and expect to pay less for their services. For an important, complex case, where you need evidence you can produce in court or when tracking down the relevant documents or parties will prove challenging, you want to hire a firm with years of stellar investigative work.
What Is Their Specialty?
In addition to years of general investigative experience, it’s important to hire a PI who can handle the tasks specific to your inquiry. If you need to track someone down, such as an important witness or party, make sure the PI firm is used to having boots on the ground to locate people in hard-to-find places. Online-only investigators are not sufficient for those situations.
If you need the PI to gather evidence you can actually produce in a court proceeding, make sure the firm knows how to collect evidence in a legal, appropriate manner that preserves its value in court. Different PIs have different specialties, and you want to hire a firm that knows how to give you exactly what you need.
Who Will Be Working On Your Case?
Much like a law firm, private investigative firms have lead investigators and more junior associates. Junior investigators earning their hours are permitted to work under the supervision of a licensed investigator. If someone besides the named partner will be working on your matter, make sure you know their experience and credentials. You might even want to meet individually with each particular investigator who will have a hand in your case. They may be otherwise smart and qualified, but if you are paying for a certain name, it’s important you understand who will actually be working on your case, and how that should affect the rate.
What Are the Costs?
Like law firms, private investigative firms have different fee structures. Make sure you know what you’ll be expected to pay before you sign the contract. Ask what fees they will charge, what types of equipment or travel they’ll be utilizing, and what exactly the stated fee covers (investigation, report, videos, client communications, etc.)
Get Help With Your Civil Litigation or Investigative Matter from a Thorough and Dedicated Investigative Firm
If you are performing due diligence in advance of a settlement, gathering evidence for a pending litigation, working to establish a financial profile, or trying to locate a missing party, Millennium Intelligence Agency is ready to offer you vital support. Call our experienced, professional, and successful legal investigative team today at 213-986-9888 for trusted and thorough intelligence-gathering services.