Ethical Issues of Using a Private Investigator

Legal Compliance Resource
January 23, 2013 — 2,398 views  

Private investigators and attorneys usually have an important partnership that helps them solve legal cases together. As a lawyer, private investigators offer you great assistance every time you require a fraud analysis, background check, asset search, or any kind of specialized research. A private investigator possesses all the requisite resources and skills to carry out the job more effectively and efficiently for you. However, hiring private investigators can have ethical complications. When you hire a professional to perform some tasks for you, it is essential to clarify the code of conduct you hold and ensure that he is well aware of your professional responsibilities.      

Lawyers are expected to put in a reasonable effort so as to make sure that they have supervisory authority over certain individuals and to ensure that such individuals act in the correct manner corresponding to the lawyer’s professional obligations. The lawyer will claim responsibility for the conduct of individuals who work under him. Private investigators fall under this category of individuals, and attorneys must ensure that no rules are violated by them.

When professional investigators are hired by a lawyer, the latter is expected to understand the manner in which both parties can be beneficial to the investigative project. The lawyer is also expected to ensure that the investigator complies with all the rules and regulations that govern the laws of a state. Since investigators work on the say-so of lawyers, they must thoroughly understand all instructions regarding their duties and limitations. Lawyers are burdened with responsibility when they hire investigators. However, investigators are of great benefit to them as they can often establish inadmissible evidence and help the lawyer get the better of the opposition.

Common problems with investigators

As a lawyer, it is mandatory for you to gain a fair understanding of how investigators gather evidence and ensure that all means and methods used by them are permissible in litigation. If you fail to have clear communication with the investigator, it may result in considerable damage not only to your case, but also to your reputation. Investigators may not necessarily be the best at interpretation, although it is a main fixture of their skill set. Lack of clarity while interpreting your expectations and needs may cause an investigator to jeopardize your situation.

On the other hand, an overenthusiastic investigator could perform all the necessary actions to complete a particular assignment without paying much attention to ethical violations. In such a case, it is the lawyer who will be liable for any consequences arising from the investigator’s enthusiastic compliance.

Working with a private investigator may be advantageous to a lawyer. Attorneys can offer comprehensive counsel to their clients in a better manner. Thanks to investigators, lawyers can save a lot of determination, time, and energy on every case. However, responsibility is a major factor while hiring investigators. You must be certain about the investigator you hire and ensure that he will comply with the law at all times.    

Legal Compliance Resource