A private investigator (often abbreviated to PI) or private detective is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private detectives/investigators often work for attorneys in civil cases. Many work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious claims. Before the advent of no-fault divorce, the stakes being fought over now are child custody, alimony, or marital property disputes.

Many states including California PIs are required to be licensed, and they may or may not carry firearms depending on local laws. While PIs may investigate criminal matters, most do not have police powers, and as such they have only the powers of citizen’s arrest and detainment that any other citizen has. They are expected to keep detailed notes and to be prepared to testify in court regarding any of their observations on behalf of their clients. Great care is required to remain within the scope of the law; otherwise the investigator may face criminal charges. Irregular hours may also be required when performing surveillance work.

PIs also engage in a large variety of work that is not usually associated with the industry in the mind of the public. For example, many PIs are involved in process serving, the personal delivery of summons, subpoenas and other legal documents to parties in a legal case.

Increasingly, modern PIs prefer to be known as “professional investigators” or Licensed Private Investigators (LPI’s) rather than “private investigators” or “private detectives”. This is a response to the image that is sometimes attributed to the profession and an effort to establish and demonstrate the industry to be a proper and respectable profession.

Stationary or mobile surveillance. Witness or person location. Face to face interviews

$55.00 per hour, $0.60 per mile, plus expenses (ie: parking, tolls and lodging)