Is Hiring a Private Investigator Legal?

Private investigators get quite the reputation in the movies: from clever underdogs trying to save the day, to vigilantes outdoing the police, there's a lot of exaggeration that accompanies this profession. But there are plenty of very real private investigators in NYC, and they do valuable work—usually to help private citizens. Even so, there's a lot of confusion about what exactly private investigators do. One of the things we hear a lot is: is it legal to hire a private eye?

The answer is absolutely yes. In fact, NYC's private investigators frequently have a close, friendly working relationship with police, and the majority of their work is in support of the pursuit of justice—either in criminal cases, civil lawsuits, or other litigation. Let's take a look at how private investigators fit into the landscape of our justice system:

Private investigator with camera

  • Private investigators are trained professionals who typically hold formal credentials – Part of their profession is to follow a code of ethics, which includes absolute confidentiality regarding their clients.
  • Often, private investigators are hired to gather evidence when police are not able to – That means they help solve crimes and achieve justice for victims and their families. New York City's police are dedicated professionals, but often can't devote the time a case needs. That's when a citizen might choose to hire a private detective. The detective has to be careful of how they gather information and evidence, so that the police can use it when it's turned over.
  • In other cases, investigators are hired to help with litigation – For example, let's say you believe your business partner sold proprietary information to your competitor. If you're right, you can sue the partner for damages; but only if you have proof. A private investigator would help gather the evidence you need to make a strong case.
  • Lastly, private eyes are sometimes hired just to answer questions – For example, if you suspect infidelity on the part of your spouse, you may just want to get a definite answer so that you can decide what to do. A private eye can help find definite answers and show you when someone is lying.

In all of these types of cases, the work private investigators do involves research and observation—and occasionally asking questions. Many of the tactics shown in the movies are total fabrications. A true private detective is an honorable professional who helps their client.

Call or contact us today at National Investigations, Inc. with any questions about our private detectives or their methods.

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