“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Thanks to novels, television and movies, there are a ton of myths out there about private investigators and what they can or cannot do. We’re here to clear up the misconceptions and debunk common PI myths so you know fact from fiction.

Myth 1: PIs can arrest people.
This is a myth. PIs are not police officers and have no authority to arrest anyone. While they can and often do assist law enforcement with gathering evidence for investigations that could eventually lead to an arrest, they can’t actually arrest anyone themselves.

Myth 2: PIs are only hired to catch criminals and cheating husbands.
While PIs do handle cases where they gather evidence on criminal activity and on cheating spouses, they actually do so much more. PIs can help with employee background checks, business investigations, insurance fraud investigations, finding missing persons and assist lawyers and law enforcement in gathering evidence for presentation in court cases.

Myth 3: PIs can wiretap phones and plant bugs/listening devices to spy on people.
PIs are bound by the same laws that citizens have to obey. They cannot wiretap a phone without that person’s consent. To do so without the person’s consent would be illegal. It is also illegal for them to bug or plant listening devices to spy on people without their knowledge and consent. PIs must collect all evidence in a way that is legal and admissible in court or they aren’t doing the job they’ve been hired for correctly.

Myth 4: PIs are above the law like police, FBI agents, CIA, etc.
PIs are citizens and must obey the same laws as all ordinary citizens. Unlike police and government agents, PIs don’t have the authority to step outside of the law. In fact, they must be extremely careful to strictly follow all laws while gathering evidence, or else it could be thrown out in a court case.  They also cannot break into houses or offices to look for clues or evidence.  PIs are written into the stalking statue so they are covered in following you and conducting an investigation where as your average citizen would be charged.

We have Hollywood to thank for many of the myths out there about what PIs can and cannot do. Now you are armed with the truth. PIs can do a lot to help people in a lot of cases but they must follow the letter of the law like any private citizen.