Things Private Investigators in Westchester County Cannot Do

There are so many myths surrounding private investigations, and there are a lot of misconceptions about what a PI can legally do. As private citizens, PIs have no more legal rights than you or I. Below is a list of things a private investigator cannot do.

Impersonate a LEO: in most places, a PI cannot wear a uniform, have a badge, or use a logo that implies they’re an official or a police officer. This rule prevents PIs from lying about their government affiliations. However, a PI can wear a uniform that indicates their status, and they often work closely with law enforcement.

Arrest someone: In the US, a private investigator cannot arrest someone, but in some places, a citizen’s arrest can be made. Some states require consent before a PI can make a citizen’s arrest, while others only allow it when the arrested is committing a federal offense or endangering the public.

Wiretap without consent: According to law, a PI cannot wiretap without one individual’s consent. 38 states and DC require that one party consent to a conversation’s recording, while the other 12 states require both individuals’ consent. Most times, a warrant is required for a legal wiretap, and a PI will work with law enforcement to avoid breaking the law.

Trespass: A private investigator cannot enter someone’s house or property illegally. Though laws vary by state, in some places, the PI must have permission to enter.

Run license plates without justification: PIs cannot legally run a license plate without cause. In most cases, they only run plates for future court use or for investigative purposes.

Obtain phone records: Investigators in Westchester County cannot access private phone records without a court subpoena. However, they can find out who is associated with a phone number.

Run credit checks: Credit reports are considered to be private information, and a PI cannot obtain them without written consent. If consent is granted, the investigator must have a legal reason for the check.

In spite of these restrictions and others, some private investigators still use unlawful means to obtain information. The illegally gained information is inadmissible in court, and an unethical investigator can negatively affect your legal case and your investigation. For more information on hiring a PI, call Pagones-O’Neill Investigations.


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