The Wasser Agency

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Private Investigator in Miami, FL. Surveillance Investigation Miami and Divorce Investigation. South Beach Investigator. Miami Investigator

Private Eye Investigations Miami Florida

This guide explains how to become a licensed private eye. This reference guide includes a general overview of the private eye profession, a state-by-state listing of contact information and website links for obtaining a private eye license, links to training and education courses, and a list of potential services that a detective may provide.

A licensed private eye is sometimes referred to as a P.E., gumshoe, sleuth and sometimes even a spy.  The terms generally refer to a person who uncovers facts and information, finds missing persons and gathers evidence, usually at the request of a private citizen or a company for which they are employed. Licensed detectives often work for attorneys and lawyers in both civil and criminal court cases. In addition, many professional investigators work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious or fraudulent insurance claims.

Many professional investigators are hired by spouses who wish to obtain proof of adultery or other illegal conduct to establish grounds for a divorce. Collecting evidence of adultery or other bad behavior by cheating spouses and partners is one of the most common and profitable services offered.

Most states require Private eyes to be licensed and some may be permitted to carry firearms (guns) depending on local and state laws. Some detectives have prior military experience and many worked as a police officer or law enforcement official.  PI’s keep detailed notes and records during each case and often testify in court regarding their observations on behalf of their clients.

Detectives often work irregular hours, especially when conducting surveillance (e.g., sitting outside a subject’s house during early morning hours hoping to get a photograph or video of their activity).

Many Private eyes provide process serving services, which is the delivery of subpoenas and other legal documents to parties who are involved in a legal case. Many detective agencies specialize in a particular field of expertise. For example, some agencies deal only in skip tracing related to finding missing persons or tracking down debtors. Others may specialize in technical surveillance countermeasures, which involves locating and dealing with unwanted forms of electronic surveillance (for example, an electronically bugged boardroom for industrial espionage purposes).

Increasingly, detectives prefer to be known as “professional investigators”. This may be a response to the sometimes negative image that is attributed to the Private Eyes profession and an effort to establish the industry to be a proper and respectable profession.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes an article in the Occupational Outlook Handbook for Private eyes and Investigators that describes the nature of the work, working conditions, qualifications, employment, training and advancement, earnings, job outlook, and related occupations. If you want to become a private eye, this is a great place to begin.

How to Get Licensed in any State

Following is a state-by-state listing of contact information for obtaining a license, or to find out if a detective is properly licensed.  Some states don’t require a license specifically for private eyes, but may require a business license, or have other legal requirements such as training or professional certifications. Many states require individuals to pass an exam or complete a series of educational courses.

If you conduct business in more than one state, you should consider getting licensed in each state.

State Private eye Licensing Requirements

Following is a list of links to pages that provide an overview of the private eye licensing requirements for each state.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida

Licensing requirements are somewhat different for each state and those requirements may change as new legislation passes. Be sure to check the state’s licensing website for the most up to date information.

Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow Private Eyes to do investigative work in both states. Currently, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia have reciprocity agreements. These agreements are subject to change, so please check with the appropriate agency to verify their current status.

Responsibilities of a Private Eye

Private Eyes also engage in a large variety of work that is not usually associated with the industry in the mind of the public. For example, many Private Eyes are involved in process serving, the personal delivery of summons, subpoenas and other legal documents to parties in a legal case. The tracing of absconding debtors can also form a large part of a Private Eyes workload. Many agencies specialize in a particular field of expertise. For example, some Private Eyes agencies deal only in tracing. There are a handful of firms that specialize in technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM), sometimes called electronic countermeasures (ECM), which is the locating and dealing with unwanted forms of electronic surveillance (for example, a bugged boardroom for industrial espionage purposes). This type of niche service is typically conducted by those with backgrounds in intelligence/counterintelligence, executive protection, and a small number from law enforcement entities whose duties included the covert installation of eavesdropping devices as a tool in organized crime, terrorism and narco-trafficking investigations. The best known of these firms in the U.S. include Granite Island Group, Confidential Research & Investigations LLC, Murray & Associates, SLC Security Services LLC and TSCM/Special Operations Group Inc. Other Private Eyes, also known as Corporate Investigators, specialize in corporate matters, including anti-fraud work, loss prevention, internal investigations of employee misconduct (such as EEO violations and sexual harassment), the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets, anti-piracy, copyright infringement investigations, due diligence investigations, malware and cyber-criminal activity and computer forensics work. Some PIs act as professional witnesses where they observe situations with a view to reporting the actions or lack of them to a court or to gather evidence in antisocial behavior.

An undercover private eye is a person who conducts investigations of suspected or confirmed criminal activity while impersonating a disinterested third party. Undercover investigators often infiltrate a suspected insurgent group, posing as a person interested in purchasing illegal goods or services with the ultimate aim of obtaining information about their assigned target.

Many undercover private eyes carry hidden cameras and recorders strapped to their bodies to help them document their investigations. The period of the investigation could last for several months or, in some extreme cases, years. Due to the dangerous nature of the job, their real identities are kept secret throughout their active careers. Economic investigations, business intelligence and information on competitors, security advice, special security services information, criminal investigation, investigations background and profile polygraph tests, are all typical examples of such a role.

Private eyes specialize in different types of investigations and use various methods to gather information and verify facts.

Accident / Reconstruction Investigation

The most common accident investigation deals with vehicular accidents. Car wrecks happen daily and it helps to have a third party on your side when insurance companies and police are dragging their feet dealing with your car accident. Accident investigations, however, are not limited to automobiles. Marine investigations, for example, investigate boating accidents and other accidents on the water. Employee accident investigations are often conducted by insurance companies and employers to determine what exactly occurred when an employee was injured on the job for worker compensation issues. Personal injury investigations are general types of investigations that try to get to the root of an accident in which someone was injured.

Fraud Investigation

Most fraud investigations begin with a meeting between the investigator and the client. The person launching the investigation explains to their investigators why they suspect fraud has taken place and hand over any evidence they have to the investigator. A good fraud investigator will use this initial information to find more evidence and more facts. A fraud investigator may use surveillance, asset searches, background checks, employee investigations, business investigations, and other types of methods to get to the bottom of a case.

In most cases, fraud investigations are investigations of white collar crime, which involves surveillance and careful consideration of complicated financial records.

Criminal Investigation

A criminal investigation is an undertaking that seeks, collects, and gathers evidence for a case or specific purpose. A criminal investigator looks for clues and evidence to determine whether a crime has taken place. If a crime has been committed, criminal investigators may look into the background of the accused and may try to uncover who committed the crime. Criminal investigators undertake several investigation techniques in order to find the necessary evidence for a case. Police agencies and law enforcement are committed to criminal investigations of every kind, but a growing number of individuals are choosing to launch their own criminal investigations with the help of professional investigators.

Corporate Investigation

Corporate investigations thoroughly investigate business operations, which is why these types of cases are also called business investigations. A corporate investigation generally tries to find out whether a business partner is legitimate, whether a potential business merger makes sense, or whether fraud or embezzlement is going on. While these are the most common types of company investigations, though, these cases can cover a wide range of topics, from intellectual property, to criminal inquiries to financial searches. It is all up to you and your business needs.

Domestic Investigation

Domestic investigation is a general term describing investigations that simply have to do with individuals and with personal issues. Currently, domestic investigations make up the bulk of most private investigation. It's really no wonder as to why this is so. Domestic investigation can help you avoid fraud, theft, and other forms of criminal problems in your own home. This type of investigation can also help you safeguard your family. Private investigators use several techniques in order to find information about criminal history, criminal activity and other things you need to know about an individual living in your home. As opposed to prying for information which may or may not be correct, hire a private investigator to find out what you should know about an individual.

Organizations Related to Private Investigation Law

Certified Investigative Professionals

Certified Investigative Professionals Inc. ® (CIPI), is a membership organization consisting of investigative professionals and affiliates, whose mission is to promote a standard of excellence among individual investigators, enhance public confidence in the profession, and represent the industry in business, education, and political forums.

Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council

The Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council was established to encourage a dialogue among professionals and scholars involved in various aspects of criminal defense investigations.

National Association of Legal Investigators

NALI was formed in 1967 for legal investigators actively engaged in negligence investigations for the plaintiff and/or criminal defense. These investigators may be employed by law firms, public defenders or private investigative agencies.

National Council of Investigation and Security Services

The National Council of Investigation and Security Services, Inc., is a cooperative effort of those companies and associations responsible for providing private security and investigation services to the legal profession, business community, government and the public. Each day we find an increasing number of problems confronting the orderly growth of our profession. These problems include, among others: overly restrictive legislation regarding training and standards, proliferation of legislation requiring local licensing, public misunderstanding and misinformation on the role and contribution of private investigators and security services, and an uninformed media. It is the role of NCISS to meet and solve these problems while seeking to uncover and recommend action on any hidden potential problems which may have an effect on our profession.

Private Investigators Association of America

The Private Investigators Association of America is a non-profit association formed in May of 1995 by a group of Investigators. The main goal and purpose of the association is to provide an educational forum for investigators throughout the United States that improves the skills and the level of professionalism of those in the industry.

United States Association of Professional Investigators

USAPI is quite different from other organizations in that it will be an inclusive rather than exclusive group. The first difference that you will see is that membership is open to all "professional investigators." Any individual who is currently employed in the capacity of a professional investigator including any current active duty law enforcement whether or not you are titled as an Investigator, Federal Agent, DA Investigator, Public Defender investigator or licensed Private Investigator. If you are a non-sworn employee for a law enforcement agency or an employee of a licensed Private Investigator you must be an employee for a period of no less than one year, and least 21 years of age.

World Association of Professional Investigators

The World Association of Professional Investigators, WAPI, is a private investigator body, formed by professionals, for professionals. It covers all areas of investigation, public sector and private sector, companies and individuals, corporate and domestic.

Publications Related to Private Investigation Law

DOL - Private Detectives and Investigators - Nature of Work

Private detectives and investigators assist individuals, businesses, and attorneys by finding and analyzing information. They connect clues to uncover facts about legal, financial, or personal matters. Private detectives and investigators offer many services, including executive, corporate, and celebrity protection; pre employment verification; and individual background profiles. Some investigate computer crimes, such as identity theft, harassing e-mails, and illegal downloading of copyrighted material. They also provide assistance in criminal and civil liability cases, insurance claims and fraud cases, child custody and protection cases, missing-persons cases, and premarital screening. They are sometimes hired to investigate individuals to prove or disprove infidelity.

Pursuit Magazine – Legislation

Welcome to Pursuit. We hope you enjoy the newest trade journal and online community for the private investigations, legal professions and protective services industries! Pursuit was initially an informal “e-zine” (an electronic magazine circulated via email) created a couple of years ago in our effort to offer outstanding information to our private eyes continuing education clients and staying in touch with them in between their license renewal periods.

Salary by Type of Employment

Whether a private eye that works independently or finds a job in a private investigation agency has an impact on his or her salary. Many agencies pay private eyes an average percentage of billable hours based on the hourly rate charged per client, according to Legal Resources. Private investigators typically charge anywhere from $13.85 - $54.15 per hour, according to PayScale. Self-employed investigators keep 100% of what they charge, though they are responsible for more administrative duties, such as record keeping.

Private Eye and Investigator Training

It’s critical to get on-the-job learning by being a practitioner in the business. Most private eyes and investigators learn through on-the-job experience, often lasting several years.

Although new investigators must learn how to gather information, additional training depends on the type of firm that hires them. For instance, at an insurance company, a new investigator will learn on the job how to recognize insurance fraud. Corporate investigators hired by large companies may receive formal training in business practices, management structure, and various finance-related topics.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing, licenses and regulates the private investigative industry in accordance with Chapter 493, Florida Statutes.

Private eyes and private investigative agencies serve in positions of trust. Untrained and unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons not of good moral character, are a threat to the public safety and welfare. The private investigative industry is regulated to ensure the interests of the public are adequately served and protected. This information has been made available to inform Florida citizens about licensing requirements.

A private eye is any individual or agency who, for consideration, advertises as providing or performs the following activities. Individuals or agencies providing or advertising as providing these services for consideration must be licensed.