Be sure your private investigator is licensed and in good standing with the appropriate state agencies. In California, start here: http://www.bsis.ca.gov/industries_regulated/pi.shtml
Private Investigators Acting Outside Their Home States
If a private investigator is investigating outside his/her home state, be sure the private investigator complies with local requirements for out-of-state private investigators.
Don't Assume A PI's Testimony Is Admissible Or Protected From Disclosure
Testimony at trial by an unlicensed private investigator might be inadmissible, and the private investigator's reports might not be protected from disclosure as an attorenys' "work product."
Do Not Allow Or Direct A PI To Violate The Law
Be sure to instruct your private investigator not to violate any laws or commit any torts. An attorney or even the client may be liable for the illegal acts of a private investigator.
It Is Safer To Have Your Attorney Hire the PI Rather Than You
The private investigator should be hired by the attorney, not the client, to maintain "work product protection." In general, an attorney's investigation of the facts of the case are not discoverable by your adversary. This is called "work product." If the PI is hired by the attorney, a PI's findings may be protected from disclosure. But non-attorneys generally don't have this protection.
A Good PI Will Tell You What He Or She Is Doing
Beware of private investigators who refuse to reveal their sources or methods. They may be violating the law, exposing you to liability.
Be Especially Careful If You Are Trying To Discover Assets, Such As Bank Accounts
Be especially careful with asset searches. Unscrupulous private investigators may obtain bank account information illegally.
Also Be Careful When Trying To Find Someone's Criminal History
Be very careful when obtaining criminal "rap sheets" via a private investigator's connections with law enforcement. Only the FBI maintains a nationwide database of arrests and convictions. It is off limits to private investigators.
Watch Out For Pretexting
Pretexting--such as impersonating someone to get that person's phone records--can be illegal, as in the Hewlett-Packard case.
Don't Make Yourself Synonymous With Watergate
Surveillance by simply following someone is usually not illegal, but wiretapping is. Steer clear of any PI who claims the ability to wiretap someone.
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