Reasons Charlotte Businesses Owners Do Not to Perform Surveillance On Their Own
Are you a private citizen with a grievance against an ex or someone who you feel might be trying to do you harm? Or do you work for a business in the public sector and you feel that an employee is stealing company data or engaging in insurance claim fraud or other related illegal activities? In either case, you probably need to have some form of proof before you make such damaging claims against a person with the authorities. This can be challenging for a number of reasons, and it’s not an activity that you should undertake alone.
Why not go alone in your intelligence gathering? North Carolina’s premier and highly respected private investigation firm, Barefoot PI, shares some vital insight into the legal requirements and dangers involved with performing surveillance against a legitimate subject.
Surveillance in Most Instances is Illegal
Private investigators in cinema and written fiction are often depicted following a suspect to any number of venues, recording their behaviors without regard to the rights of the target or their own safety. The reality is that private investigators have to follow a number of laws and regulations that place strict limitations as to what is and isn’t allowed.
Physical Surveillance Done Incorrectly Violates Privacy
Surveilling a target in person is something investigators are often required to do in domestic cases involving infidelity, abuse, and custody disagreements, but can also extend into insurance fraud investigations and other instances where a target’s movements are of interest legally. In all of these situations, it might be necessary to perform reconnaissance of areas that have restricted access or are privately owned.
In all cases, a PI can surveil the area from public property, but at no point are they allowed to loiter or trespass. As professionals, investigators make a point of doing their due diligence and performing surveillance legally, whereas a private citizen won’t have the same training and would risk being arrested. Similarly, the investigator will be unknown to the target and has a higher chance of gathering the intelligence necessary to the case and remaining unnoticed. On the other hand, if you have a personal stake in the case and try to perform your own surveillance, chances are you’ll be seen and reported for stalking or harassment. A worst-case scenario could lead to a dangerous situation if the target of your attention is dangerous or prone to violence.
Digital Surveillance is Highly Regulated
You know the scene: it’s nighttime, and the private investigator has been staking out the subject of an investigation for days amidst a sea of empty fast-food wrappers. Finally, the target shows up with their lover in tow. The doors close, the lights come up, and the PI snaps off a frantic series of photographs through a conveniently open window, the whole while using a directional microphone to record any conversation taking place.
While fans of detective fiction might be cheering him on, the professionals in the readership are groaning and shaking their heads. The fact is, there are myriad legal issues with scenes like this, many of them to do with the use of electronic surveillance devices.
- An investigator can sit next to a target in a public setting and eavesdrop on a conversation, taking notes, and as a credible source be able to submit their findings as evidence. However, since most states have a single-party consent law for wiretapping and digital recording, at no point can that conversation be recorded by the investigator. Nor can a PI plant bugs in a private residence, as this is something that requires a warrant and is confined to law enforcement.
- You can take pictures and videos of a target as long as they are in a public space. The legal precedent here is that being in public, a person cannot have an expectation of privacy, so the target’s actions aren’t protected as they would be if the individual were in a private residence or otherwise behind closed doors. Even if the investigator can clearly see the target through a window or other vantage point, private property is considered a safe haven.
- GPS and other tracking devices can only be employed if a registered owner of the vehicle provides permission to do so. That means if a spouse is suspicious of their significant other, but only the significant other’s name is on the car’s registration, the PI cannot use electronic means to track that vehicle.
Let the Experts Handle the Heavy Lifting When it Comes to Surveillance
These are only a few of the limitations on a private investigator’s efforts to surveil a target. The fact is, private investigators are licensed for a reason. With the knowledge PI’s have drilled into them through licensure and training, it’s assured that all involved remain protected, safe, and free of rights violations throughout the investigative process. Protect yourself and learn more about the investigative process and how our team can help.