You’re in the midst of a legal case, but the prospects are not looking good, and you feel like you’re falling short. Do you simply stay put and hope for the best, or engage every legal aid at your disposal? Should you resort to hiring a private investigator?
The answer will depend predominantly on you and the particularities of your case. However, when push comes to shove, it’s time to pull out some major legal guns.
Balancing the pros and cons
Although private investigators have often gotten a bad rep and their services do not come at a low price, lawyers have been successfully hiring investigators to aid their cases for more than a century. And for a good reason, too. Private investigators are usually former policemen and have a great deal of expertise and knowledge in obtaining data, locating a person, following police procedures etc. As long as it has been gathered in a lawful way, evidence gathered by a private investigator is admissible in court and can even overturn the outcome of your legal case.
To answer the question whether using a private investigator can help your legal case, our answer is yes, it absolutely could. While there are no guarantees for a positive outcome of your legal battle, you absolutely want to make sure you maximised your chances of winning. Still, there are a couple of things you should be wary of before hiring the services of a private investigator.
The ground rules of hiring a PI
In some cases, hiring a private investigator can backfire on you with tremendous damage to your legal case. You absolutely have to be certain that nothing in their data and/or evidence collection process can thwart your legal case.
- Finding the right company
Your first and most important point of action is selecting a legitimate and reputable company for the job. The world of private investigation is flourishing with crooks and scams, so spare no effort to find a legitimate one. In order to distill which is the right one for you, make sure he or she is a member of a recognised professional body. While not legally binding yet, organisations such as the Association of British Investigators rely on a rigorous code of conduct, and as such take extra care in ensuring all of their members are upholding professional values and promoting integrity within the PI profession.
- Test them out beforehand
The next step involves some “mystery shopping”, i.e., testing the waters by coming up with a false request and see how the PI responds to it. For example, you can ask the firm to give you access to your spouse’s bank accounts that you need for the approaching divorce proceedings. If they agree, cross them off the list immediately. The only way they could obtain such information is highly illegal and immoral, so you definitely want to steer clear from such “professionals”.
- Do your homework, too
Lastly, do your own investigation and check whatever you can find about the company and the people behind it. How much prior experience do they have, and how will their skills particularly benefit your own situation? Conduct your due diligence by googling the web for unbiased reviews and others’ experiences. Also, pay them a phone call over during which you can lay out the basics of your case. What kind of impression did you get? What does your gut feeling tell you?
- Establish a personal relationship
The last, key step is to get involved personally. Check out firsthand into whose hands you are placing the destiny of your legal case. Take it from Nicholas Himonidis, a PI with thousands of investigatory cases’ worth of experience behind him: “I think that’s extremely important to investigate your investigator and there are things you can do, such as contacting the state board and seeing who regulates the firm, seeing if they’ve had any complaints. (…) One of the things I think is extremely worthwhile to do if you want an ongoing relationship with an investigator is to go visit him. Go to his office. I’m not saying that if you have a fancy office that makes you a good investigator, but you do need to have the tools of the trade and you do need to have some staff to get the work done.”
Hiring a private investigator is expensive and may not be even be applicable or useful in your legal case. However, if upon careful consideration and consultations with your solicitors you have decided it can prove essential to the outcome of your case, you should by all means hire one. Just make sure you follow the tips from this article and dodge the backlash caused by a sub-par or illegitimate PI firm.