Be careful what you ask for.

As professional investigators, we get involved in a mutlitude of different cases and investigations. Many times, clients do not know exactly what they want and sometimes we are asked by a client to do something that maybe illegal or unethical.

The decision is an easy one for legitimate and ethical private investigation firms. Under no circumstances would we do anything that involved breaking the law or conducting our business in an unethical manner. Unfortunately, there are those who are more intersted in making money than being ethical and law abiding.

Mr. Bill Lowrance, President of the Professional Investigators Association of Virginia, has recently highlighted the case of ten investigators who ran afoul of the law for supplying information to a host of clients, including attorneys, to which they were not entitled. It appears as if these investigators and attorneys will now face serious legal action and rightfully so.

One of the most frequent illegal requests that we get is from clients wishing to “tap” a phone line. These clients are immediately informed that the tapping of a phone in order to discover the conversation between two or more people is a Federal Crime. In certain States, and Virginia is one, a person can covertly record a conversation that they are having with another person. They do not need the other person’s permission when it is done in a “one party” State.

A “one party” State is exactly as it sounds. It means that as long as one person gives their permission (the person making the recording), it is perfectly legal to record that conversation. Be advised that the person making the recording must be the other party. In a “two party” state, both parties involved in the phone call/canversation would have had to give permission before it could be legally recorded.

Another area where people get themselves into trouble is with surveillance. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, only Police Officers and properly licensed investigators are allowed by law to conduct surveillance. Believe it or not, a husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other can get arrested for watching or following their partner around even if they believe the partner is cheating on them with somebody else.

The last thing you want is to unknowingly get yourself into trouble. Be sure to do your due diligence and only hire qualified, licensed, insured and ethical companies when you have an investigative need. This goes for individuals and Law Firms alike.

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