What Is A Private Investigator?

What Is A Private Investigator?
What is a Private Investigator?.Really?

In this article, I will introduce you to the function of the modern professional investigator: The licensed and bonded professional, who provides services to the legal, insurance, and business communities, and private individuals. I will include information to assist the reader in locating, and evaluating, a professional, and licensed, investigator.


We are a regulated profession. Here is the current law in NH. Most states are similar, generally.

New Hampshire Law, RSA 106-f: 4 states, in relevant part:

“Private detective” means a person engaged in conducting investigations involving, but not limited to: (a) Unsolved crimes. (b) Insurance. (c) Clandestine surveillance. (d) Missing persons. (e) Lost, concealed, or stolen property. (f) Escaped felons or wanted persons subject to reward for capture.
II. “Private detective agency” means the business of collecting for a fee, hire or reward information on the identity, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, transactions, reputation or character of any person, or otherwise doing investigative work for a private rather than a public interest.

It is clear that it is the intent of the legislature to regulate the activity, not the title of the provider. If you engage in these activities, for a fee, you must be licensed.

Investigators provide background investigations on witnesses, as well as locating, and serving subpoenas on uncooperative witnesses. They investigate insurance fraud, saving millions of dollars annually.

Services to the business community include; employee background investigations, verification of employment application information, internal theft, and workplace violence issues. They also provide skip-tracing services, to locate debtors.

Professional investigators often specialize. Those who focus on intellectual property theft, for example, investigate and document acts of piracy, help clients stop the illegal activity, and provide intelligence for prosecution and civil action. Other investigators specialize in developing financial profiles and asset searches. Their reports reflect information gathered through interviews, investigation and surveillance, and research, including review of public documents.

Financial investigators may be hired to develop confidential financial profiles of individuals or companies who are prospective parties to large financial transactions. They search for assets in order to recover damages awarded by a court in fraud or theft cases. These are but a few of the services provided by investigators.

The ?tools of the trade?: A thorough knowledge of investigative procedures and protocols is paramount. They need a thorough knowledge of, and experience with, the judicial system. A good investigator must have an understanding of human behavior. He, or she, must have an in depth knowledge of public records at the local, state and federal level, and the laws, and procedures, governing access to those records.

He, or she, must have the ability, and experience, to interpret the data gathered, to answer questions, and draw inferences. Knowledge of photography is essential, as is being computer literate. It is imperative that the investigator is conversant with all privacy laws, and other regulations, which affect this research, and all activities. This is where the problem lies, when an unlicensed person steps into the picture. Licensing means a Bond on file, higher standards, professionalism, and oversight to protect the consumer.

This is not a profession for the inexperienced or someone whose education and training comes from the inside of a matchbook cover. There is far too much at stake for the client.

Today?s investigator is a highly skilled professional, in a highly regulated profession. A professional investigator can help the client define a problem, reduce it to its least common denominator, locate the facts and information needed to answer the questions, or solve the problems, and advance the client?s position in the matter. He, or she, must be able to document the findings, in a professional report, and be prepared to present the information in a, court of law, or other legal forum.

Investigators come to the profession from a variety of backgrounds: former law enforcement officers, at the local, state, and federal level, and those with experience in the insurance industry, or perhaps the military, or private sector/corporate security, and investigations.

The field of private of investigation is a highly regulated profession, regulated by state laws, and licensing regulations. Here in NH there is Legislation pending that will amend RSA 106-f and create a Regulatory Board and codify ethical standards and define Unprofessional Conduct.

How does one locate, and evaluate, a competent, and experienced, investigator? What are the criteria? A telephone book ad or a web site is no guarantee that the person is licensed, or has the qualifications that meet your needs.

Ask a professional colleague for a referral. Ask questions, request documentation, and references. New Hampshire law requires that all investigators post a $50,000.00 bond, but does not require an investigator to provide proof of insurance. Ask for a copy of the investigators insurance certificate. It protects both the investigator, and the client. It is one of the marks of the serious professional. Ask for, and contact, professional references. The investigator should be able to furnish you with detailed curriculum vitae, and a copy of his, or her, contract for services.

Another consideration is his/her commitment to excellence, ongoing training, and professional standards. The Hallmark of the professional investigator is his/her membership in the New Hampshire League of Investigators. The League is the only professional association of investigators in New Hampshire.

New members go through a screening process. Members are governed by its constitution and by-laws, and must abide by a strict Code of Professional Ethics. NHLI members keep at the top of their profession by availing themselves of the numerous training seminars, sponsored by the League, and are kept informed by it?s publication, The PROBE. Please visit the League?s web site at where you can learn more about the association or find an investigator.


John M. Healy is the Past President of The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc, and Past President of the New England Council of State Investigator Associations. He has been a licensed investigator since retiring from the NH State Police at the rank of Lieutenant. He does business as Litigation Intelligence Services, LLC and the NH Academy of Investigative and Security Training.

He has earned the professional designations of Certified Master Investigator (CMI) and Certified International Investigator (CII)

He has authored many articles on the field of investigations for law enforcement and the legal community, and lives in Warner with his wife, daughter, granddaughter and two cats.

Tinggalkan Balasan

Alamat email Anda tidak akan dipublikasikan. Ruas yang wajib ditandai *