The depiction of private investigators in media and entertainment can often make them seem like a villain or a criminal. They can go where they want, pry into other’s lives and collect sensitive information to be used as court evidence. It is rare that you can issue a restraining order against them. However, this is a picture sketched by popular culture. In reality, the situation is quite different. It is not a free reign for PIs. There are moral and legal issues that bind their hands. Their rights and privileges are no different than those given to an ordinary citizen.
Given is a list of things that a private investigator cannot do from the moral and legal aspect. It might vary from country to country.
The Moral and Legal Binds
- Private investigators are not connected to government agencies. They function independently and gather sensitive information for attorneys or individual clients. As such, they are not allowed to wear any uniform, badge or any logo or phrasing that shows them as an associate of government agencies such as the police or Government officials.
- A private investigator cannot arrest anyone. This is the duty of the police or other officials. This law is not uniform in all countries. In selected states in America for example, a private investigator can make an arrest in certain situations. This occurs when the person’s activities are endangering public life and property or in cases when the offense is witnessed. In some states, A PI is given the right to arrest a person provided he has a written arrest warrant.
- Electronic surveillance is an important method of gathering information. However, as per the law, an investigator cannot monitor or tap phone conversations without the consent of the individuals involved. In some countries, an investigator has to acquire consent from any one of the persons whose phone is being wiretapped while in other countries it needs the consent of all the individuals whose telephone conversations should be recorded. The private investigator might also be required to obtain a legal warrant to tap somebody’s phone. However, if business is conducted in public and the private investigator is present there and he overhears your conversation that is considered legal.
- A private investigator is liable for punishment if he trespasses an individual’s property during the investigation process. They cannot break into anyone’s house, property and building to secure information as evidence for court proceedings.
- A private investigator cannot tamper with, open or destroy an individual’s mail be it postal messages or electronic mails. They also cannot monitor a person’s email from a remote location without permission.
- If a private investigator’s work threatens the individual being monitored or if the person starts feeling unsafe and files charges against the agent, the private investigator is liable to answer the court about the intent of the surveillance. Such activities are usually considered to be stalking and not surveillance. The court regards them as having a criminal intent.
- A private investigator cannot obtain protected information such as phone records, financial information and credit history without consent of the individual or legal permission. They can however investigate the location of the information. They can also investigate past criminal records in accordance with the applicable laws.
- Not only this, when private investigators work, they respect the privacy of the individuals. They respect the moral values and consider the ethical considerations of every step they take.
Indonesia Private Investigation Agency (IPIA) along with our sister agency Bali Eye Private Investigation Agency (BEPIA) are fully registered Private Investigation Agencies offering private detective and private investigator services to the Private and Business sectors throughout Indonesia and South East Asia.