Should attorneys use private investigators? As a private investigator, it is my job to sell the attorney into my services. However, using a private investigator may not always benefit the attorney. As an attorney, you should weigh the need for further information and the expense that is attached to it. Premium investigative services come at a premium price.
When an attorney needs to locate assets, they might try to use a private investigator if they’re unable to locate assets on their own. This could prove fruitful for the attorney, however it is rarely that clean cut. There are many laws that govern the use of pretexting that an investigator is bound by, many of these protections are federal.
The GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) regulates the use of pretexting to gain unauthorized access or information about an individual’s financial records. Which means even if the investigator or attorney suspects an individual is hiding assets in any specific bank, the information is legally unobtainable. The information obtained by unlawful acquisition under this act is unusable at best and a federal prison sentence at worst. The attorney should consider obtaining an order from the judge which would allow the investigator to search and demand records in a lawful manner. Otherwise, searching open source records for possible assets and confirming identities through records may not always yield favorable results to the amount of capital invested.
Witnesses are the pivotal points in any case. A witness could make or break the case altogether, whether criminal or civil. You as the attorney may not always have the time to survey and canvas for possible new witnesses. On top of this, many investigators are good dealing with people and may be more willing to come forward with information if they trust the person they’re speaking with. In the case of locating witnesses, private investigators can sometimes do more.
Occupations Code 506.052 appears to exempt private investigators and other licensed professionals from behavioral analysis licensing standards regulated by TDLR so long as it is within the scope of their job and they are competent in the subject. (link)
Never underestimate the utility of a solid psychological and behavioral profile of an individual. As humans are creatures of habit, you can reasonably expect a person to act and behave in ways similar to their past. Whether this research is conducted on witnesses, the defendant, or even the plaintiff’s attorney, a properly prepared report detailing findings of previous behavior, statements, and a general psychological profile of a person might give you the edge your case needs.
However, the attorney should consider the experience and expertise of the investigator. An experienced investigator will be able to provide you accurate and thorough results, but if you opt to choose an investigator who’s experience does not include working with psychological, behavioral, or sociological patterns, then your results may be minimal at best. Consider asking the prospective investigator how they profile and what their decision making method is. This should help you gauge their experience at behavioral analysis.
These days, there are many information services which provide information at a small fee. However, resources such as TLO, Westlaw PeopleMap, and Tracers contain a lot of outdated and incorrect information that needs to be manually verified. Attorneys may not have the time to devote to this manually review which sometimes requires on-site visits and driving by residences to verify vehicles or individuals are there. Further, there are resources and methodologies that investigators gather as they progress into their career, further making it more efficient for private investigators to gather information on their own. In this case, it is more efficient to hire a private investigator.
Spectre Intelligence is a private investigation and intelligence firm located in sunny Round Rock, TX (Austin area). If you need investigation or cybersecurity services, visit us at www.spectreintel.com and www.spectretechnology.com