There are several factors to consider prior to employing a licensed private investigator.
When interviewing an investigator, have clear objectives defined to determine if
the investigator is qualified and to establish the parameters of your case.
The average private investigator charges between $50 to $200 per hour. However, you
should never base your decision strictly on fees, you may find out (usually after
the fact) that your decision to save a few dollars will cost you far more in the
form of an unfavorable decision, wasted time and money, or possibly worse, litigation
arising from the tortious acts of a under-trained private investigator.
Private Investigations by definition is a trade, not a profession. Exercise due diligence
when selecting an investigator.
First, always check to make certain the investigator is licensed in California. This
can be verified at the Bureau of Security & Investigative Services website. Regardless
if they have an out-of-state license, they could be operating illegally in California
and the evidence they obtained could be rendered useless.
The state of California requires a license to operate as a private investigator,
yet the state has NO pre-license educational requirements. Additionally, once licensed,
the state does NOT require Mandatory Continuing Education. Noble v. Sears Roebuck,
(1973) held the employer of a private investigator liable for the torts committed
by a P.I.
Here are just a few recent examples where the client chose poorly:
The legal appeals staff for convicted killer Michael Morales employed Kathleen Culhane.
It was determined Culhane was unlicensed and submitted fabricated witness and juror
statements allegedly recanting their prior testimony and juror decision.
In another matter, attorneys and clients faced criminal charges and civil litigation
in the wake of employing the Hollywood P.I. to the Stars, Anthony Pellicano for
bribery and wiretapping.
Hewlett Packard employed private investigators in an effort to determine the source
of leaks to the press. The P.I.s stole the identity of board members and used their
confidential information, date of birth and SSN number to illegally obtain confidential
phone records. Hewlett-Packard agreed to a $14.5 million settlement payout.
A Shell Oil Company in-house lawyer hired a private investigator to dig up information
on an opposing party’s expert witness. Shell made defamatory comments re: the expert,
based on the PI’s flawed investigative results. Shell Oil subsequently settled a
defamation lawsuit exceeding $100,000.
There are enumerable examples with unfortunate consequences for failing to choose
Hiring the right PI is critical, not only to obtain supporting evidence you need,
but to protect yourself from costly litigation arising from liability.