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So What Can a Private Investigator NOT Do?

May 27, 2017

Chances are, you've sen at least one movie or TV show in which a private investigator seems to do things that only the police can. And while private investigators do have certain benefits, like experience or access to limited information, P.I.s do not have the same exact legal abilities as law enforcement. So here a quick list of things that private investigators aren't allowed to do.


5 Things Private Investigators Can't Do:


1. Private Investigators Can't Arrest People

A PI is allowed to investigate cases, do surveillance, and even track down missing people. But they aren't allowed to arrest anyone. In rare cases, a PI can make a citizen's arrest, if they witnessed the crime. But otherwise, they can't arrest someone.


2. Private Investigators Can't Record Certain Conversations

In some situations, a PI can record a conversation, if at least one person involved is aware that it's being recorded. But a PI can't record a private conversation between people if none of them are aware that they're being recorded. The law varies from state to state, but in Oregon, it's only legal to record private conversations if everyone involved is aware of it.


3. Private Investigators Can't Trespass

A PI isn't legally able to enter someone's home without permission. Of course, some private investigators are clever enough to offer reasons to enter a private home or business, get the info they need, and still leave without having broken any laws. Or make it known that they're doing a private investigation. But even that way still requires permission to be allowed in.


4. Private Investigators Can't Pose as Law Enforcement

Some PIs may have law enforcement experience, but are retired. Regardless of their own past experience, a private investigator isn't allowed to identify themselves as any type of active-duty police or federal officer. That also includes not wearing uniforms, or carrying a law enforcement badge.


5. Private Investigators Can't Bug Phones without Permission

Laws on wiretapping change from state to state. In some states, only one person on the phone needs to be aware that the call is being recorded. In other states, both people on the phone must be aware that the call will be recorded. In Oregon, it is illegal for a third party to intercept, attempt to intercept, or get any other person to intercept any wire or oral communication without the consent of any parties to the conversation. Unless one is a party to the conversation or has received consent from one of the parties, it is illegal to obtain any part of a telecommunication or a radio communication. However, courts have ruled that one cannot use a device to record a conversation unless all parties of the conversation are informed.


Still have questions about private investigation? Feel free to contact us. We're NBG Investigation Group and Notary, led by private investigator Nicholas Batchelder-Galvan. Based in Oregon, we offer a variety of investigative services to clients throughout the Greater Oregon area.







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