Dos & Don’ts: How Far Can a PI Go to Investigate a Case? Part I

While the media, news, television, and movies would have you believe that private investigators lead action-packed lives, breaking into residences to obtain evidence and even engaging in high-speed chases, the reality is far different. Investigative work is more about meticulous research, scouring the details of a case, and conducting surveillance to gather information.

If you’re looking for a private investigator in Monmouth County, NJ, there are a few things you should understand about how far a PI can go to investigate a case. Let’s debunk some of the misconceptions and take a look at what private investigators cannot do while conducting their investigation.

Impersonate a Law Enforcement Officer

Although many private investigators like Bob Cowan work in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, it’s illegal to impersonate a law official or officer in most states, including New Jersey. This helps to prevent PIs from misleading individuals about their connection to government agencies.

Enter Your Home Without Consent

A PI can’t gain access to your home, property, or building by any illegal means. This means they can’t use forced entry, lock picking, or any other methods like breaking and entering. If they do, you can ask them to leave immediately and they must comply.

Hack Into a Social Media or Email Account

Some investigators possess the technology to access information about social media profiles, like when and where the photos were taken and posted, but they won’t attempt to break into an account that belongs to another person.

Access Protected Information Without Consent

Information such as phone records, bank accounts, and other financial records will typically require either permission from the account holder or a formal demand like a court order or subpoena.

Tamper With Your Mail

Contrary to TV and movies, PIs can’t open your mail, destroy it, or otherwise tamper with it; it’s a federal offense.

Record a Subject Through a Private Home’s Window

While private investigators can film or photograph interactions that take place in public, in most instances NJ Private Investigators can’t record the interior of a private home through a window.

Operate Without a License

In New Jersey, private investigators must obtain a license to operate in the state. This includes meeting stringent standards and requirements, experience with law enforcement or investigative agencies, and more. Bob Cowan maintains a license to operate in the state of New Jersey and is bonded and fully insured.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss what tactics and strategies, like conducting surveillance and interviews, that PIs can use to effectively investigate their cases.

For more information or to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation for an infidelity investigation in Middlesex, Mercer, and Monmouth Counties, NJ, call Cowan Investigations today at 732-201-8142.