When Should You Hire a Private Investigator?
Definition of Criminal Investigation A criminal investigation is a task that seeks, collects, and gathers evidence on your case or for a specific purpose. A criminal investigator will look for clues and evidence in determining whether or not a crime has actually taken place. If a crime has been determined to have been committed, criminal investigators will more than likely look into the background of the accused. They will then try to uncover who committed the crime. Criminal investigators have several different investigation techniques they will use in order to find the necessary evidence they are looking for in your case. Hiring a professional investigator can by of the utmost importance.
Why Should I Hire a Professional Criminal Investigator?
• Criminal investigators work within the law to find evidence pertaining to your case
• Criminal investigators will gather evidence of wrongful conviction and/or accusation
• Law enforcement detectives are often too busy with other responsibilities
• Criminal investigation divisions are often too short on the necessary resources to conduct a proper and detailed investigation
• Dedicated criminal investigators are more persistent than law enforcement officials in order to provide the best results
• Criminal investigators are not restricted by jurisdiction Types of Criminal Investigations
• Fraud investigations
• Criminal defense investigations
• Homicide investigations
• Crime scene investigations
• Assault investigations
• Kidnapping investigations
• Sexual crime investigations
• Theft investigations And more.
Criminal Investigation Techniques
• Crime scene photography
• Background checks
• Document searches And more.
How Reliable Are Criminal Investigations? You should know that most criminal investigators are highly trained and possess a variety of valuable resources and tools that may not otherwise be available to you. These include:
• Networks of investigators
• Records checks
• And many other sources that help them to solve crimes
The investigator's extensive experience enables them to know exactly how to find the evidence that you are looking for. They know the best practices to perform their investigations effectively. They abide by the laws and regulations which surround their investigations in order to ensure that your information and evidence is secured in a legal manner, which is important to your defense. Crime investigators are able to fine useful information that other individuals might overlook. Criminal investigators keep the evidence preserved in a manner that it will be admissible in court. And since they take prompts from you, they will for the most part continue their investigation of your case until you are fully satisfied, making the chances that you will get the answers and evidence you seek much higher.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Private Investigator? Of course, the fees of private investigators vary depending upon many different circumstances, such as location and type of services required. Be aware that criminal investigators with extensive experience and training will charge higher fees. Prior to hiring your criminal private investigator, be vigilant in finding out all of the costs and fees associated with the service you are hiring them for. Most investigators will offer a free initial consultation. Below are some questions you should ask at the consultation regarding the fees.
Will They Charge a Flat Fee? Or, Do They Only Charge by the Hour? Some private investigators will charge a flat fee for specific basic services, including background checks, research, and specialized equipment, such as a GPS unit. Other services commonly used for a flat fee include, but are not limited to:
• Identifying a cell phone number
• Vehicle registration search
• Criminal records search
• “Bug Sweeps” of home or car
• GPS monitoring
What are the Hourly Fees? Hourly rates will vary depending upon where the investigator is located, the difficulty of the criminal investigation (what will be involved), and whether or not they will need the assistance of other private investigators. Hourly fees can range anywhere between $40.00 - $100.00 an hour and more.
The average hourly rate is usually around $50.00 - $55.00 an hour. Keep in mind, however, that there are always additional fees which are attached to the hourly rate. An example would be mileage expenses, which can average around $.50 per mile. The hourly rate will increase significantly if another private investigator's services are required in order to complete the investigation. For instance, if the services of a private investigator were needed overseas, let's say, the hourly rate would be significantly higher as, in some parts of the world, PI's can charge upwards to $300.00 a hour.
Will the PI require a deposit/retainer in Addition to the Fees? Many will require a deposit or retainer, which will be applied to your fees for services rendered and expenses. Most retainers are set according to the specific services needed. Most criminal defense investigators will ask for a retainer of at least $1,000.00 - $1,500.00 due to the amount of work involved.
The follow factors will be involved in determining your retainer:
• How much travel is involved
• Airline costs
• Hotel costs
• Estimated number of surveillance hours needed
• Urgency If you will be using a PI through your criminal defense attorney, the PI will not always require a retainer, as the attorney either has a professional relationship with them already, or they acknowledge responsibility in ensuring the payment of invoices. Once a PI is hired, you should ensure that they keep a running record of his/her work/activities, and be sure to ask for itemized statements of the work done. Be sure to sign a contract with them detailing in writing the services agreed upon.
Insure that the Private Investigator is licensed It is in your best interests to ask for proof that your private investigator is licensed. You can contact the licensing division of the California Department of Consumer Affairs to double check. Take a Look at Your Private Investigator's Past Of course, if you are going through your criminal defense attorney's PI, you can be assured that they will be using the best PI for your case. If you are looking on your own, you will need to be persistent in knowing that they have a good reputation.
• Does the PI have a reputable amount of experience?
• What type of technical knowledge do they possess?
• Do they understand how to effectively interact with others: You could also ask for references to contact to find out how satisfied their clients have been in the past. And, lastly, you could check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them. Will the PI be willing to Testify in Court?
Some PI's are reluctant to testify in court if need be. Stay away from them. If they are willing to testify, make sure they understand the court system and how to play the testimony to work in your favor. Even if you/your attorney doesn't believe that court testimony will be necessary, it is still good for the PI to possess these skills just in case. Summary Hiring a criminal private investigator is not something that most people have to do every day. Therefore, asking the right questions and being well-informed before hiring the right PI will help you to avoid a potential disaster down the road. More importantly, hiring the best criminal defense attorney will save you a lot of time and effort as they will have an acquired professional relationship with an established private investigator.