What Can a Private Investigator Do and Not Do?

Private investigators in Vancouver, BC must follow a code of conduct in order to maintain a good reputation as a reliable PI and be able to present in court.

So although private investigators must adhere to law just like everyone else, but they have the skills and investigative techniques necessary to obtain data in an efficient and legal manner.

So what can private investigators legally do and not do?

Private investigators can…

Conduct surveillance

Private investigators are expertly trained in the art of surveillance, working within the law to ensure the evidence will be obtained ethically and safely. In many cases, electronic or physical surveillance is necessary in order to gather information on the individual in question.

Private investigator in Vancouver BC taking photos with a cameraFrom discreetly observing the daily routine and interactions of said individual to collecting items thrown away that could be used as evidence, a PI will employ this tactic to gain a better understanding of the other party and gain any possible information that could help build your case.

Private investigators will conduct surveillance at any given time of day or night, and in any type of public setting without the other party growing suspicious.

Take photos without consent

As a private investigator is conducting surveillance, a situation may warrant capturing the findings on film through photo or video. If the PI remains in an area of the public domain, they will have free reign to capture the individual in question on camera to then use as physical evidence in court.

Again, consent for the photo or video recording is not necessary, as long as they are on public property.

Gather evidence through OSINT

In this increasingly digital world, many are familiar with navigating the web and updating their social media accounts. However, not everyone is apt for uncovering data that is vital to their case.

As a certified private investigator in Vancouver, BC, taking on the exploration of the various public databases, websites, and personal accounts of an individual is fairly easy. PIs know what to look for and where to locate the data necessary to support your case, and then present it in a way that is permissible in court.

Interview witnesses

Private investigator interviewing a witnessIt is always better to have someone of a third party investigate your case because they hold no connection to the individuals involved and therefore, can conduct the necessary investigative techniques and obtain information from witnesses without bias.

Not only can a certified PI interview witnesses, they can also track viable witnesses down who can provide testimony to help build your case.

Properly present their findings in court

Conducting your own investigation will result in evidence that you may be able to use in court, but there will be no thought or validity to support it.

With a certified private investigator conducting the research for your case, you can ensure that the data collected will be used to build a stronger case for you and will be permissible in court. Not only will the evidence be valid, it will also be handled correctly and presented in an effective manner by the PI on your case.

Private investigators can’t…

Trespass on properties to obtain footage through windows

Yes, private investigators can take video/photos without the individual’s consent, but the evidence must be obtained from a public vantage point.  If the individual is in an area where they are considered to have a reasonable expectation of privacy, then that evidence would not be admissible as evidence in court so waiting for better opportunities where evidence can be obtained without violating privacy rights is important.

Canada, specifically, has very strict privacy laws set in place that define what a reasonable expectation of privacy is for an individual.

Wiretap any device

Private investigators may be able to eavesdrop on a nearby conversation but tapping a phone to listen in on private conversations is considered illegal.

Without a proper warrant, monitoring any telephone or digital device is prohibited.

Trespass on private property

As previously stated, private investigators are not above the law. If anything, they are devoted to the law, employing their services to adhere to the rules and regulations set in place by the Security Services Act in British Columbia.

They may not enter an individual’s home or private property without permission or a warrant, and cannot open another person’s mail.

Pose as law enforcement

Close up of police officers at a crime sceneA private investigator is just that: an expert in uncovering and gathering hard-to-reach information in a legal and safe manner.

They are not law enforcement personnel and cannot impersonate themselves as such under any circumstances.

PIs may not even wear uniforms or carry any materials that could cause an individual to misinterpret their role in the investigation. They have no legal authority to make an arrest or carry a firearm.

Hack personal online accounts

Although private investigators know their way around the deep web and social media channels, there are limitations when it comes to gathering information through these sources.

Private investigators are not allowed to hack into these an individual’s personal online accounts like emails, computer files, or any private social media accounts. This act is considered illegal in Canada and many other countries.

If the social media profiles of the individual in question are public, then the information gathered has fair use.

Dealing with a suspicious spouse, child custody battle, or potential fraud in the workplace? Shadow Investigations offers the investigative services you need to support your case.

Give us a call at 604-657-4499 today to schedule a free consultation.