In certain cases, a lawyer may recommend hiring a private investigator. He or she may have existing contacts or may recommend that you find your own investigator. Here are some situations in which you may need a private investigator to assist you in your case.


Locating Someone

If you are planning to get divorced, you usually must have your spouse served. However, he or she may have been out of contact and you may not know where he or she is. In other cases, you may want to locate a defendant or a witness. Sometimes people will actively avoid being located because they do not want to be brought into court. A private investigator can help locate an individual. He or she can help identify a current address. He or she may conduct a background check to find old addresses, phone numbers that can lead to addresses and property filings in order to locate such an individual.

Locating of Property

In divorce cases and in proceedings to help enforce a judgment, you may need to learn about the property that another person owns or may be hiding. Private investigators can research property records to see the property that an individual currently owns and previously owned. Additionally, they can analyze mortgage information pertaining to property holdings. They can also identify a party’s property transactions. They may also help determine the current fair market value of different types of property, including real property. If a party has filed bankruptcy, a private investigator can retrieve and analyze records related to the bankruptcy. If one of the parties owns a business, the private investigator may analyze corporate records, assess the value of business and determine whether any business assets have been sold for below fair market value. They may help identify bank account information and foreign assets. They may also check for UCC filings regarding the registration of certain property.

Collection of Evidence

In many civil cases, you may need to know more about the other side. In divorce cases, you may want to investigate whether your spouse has been unfaithful. Private investigators may conduct surveillance or review certain other information to help uncover an improper relationship. If the marriage was entered into fraudulently, a private investigator may locate marriage and divorce records and filings. Private investigators often make FOIA requests to government agencies to gather criminal and civil information about individuals. In order to research child custody cases, private investigators may talk to individuals about who is actually providing care and supervision of the children. With the advent of social media, private investigators may also look on professional social networks and other social media presence to help uncover useful information. They may also look on message boards for pertinent posts. Private investigators may conduct surveillance in person by taking photographs of the other party and track his or her movements. In some cases, mobile or electronic surveillance may be conducted to track his or her movements.

Background Information

Private investigators may also look into the background of the other party or witnesses. For example, private investigators may locate local, state and federal arrest records. They may also look for civil filings made by or against the individual. In some cases, they may investigate if the party or the witness has been disciplined professionally or had a professional license suspended or revoked.

Assistance to Lawyers

Private investigators may help civil lawyers or criminal defense lawyers with other aspects of the case. For example, they may conduct an independent investigation of the evidence. For example, they may gather evidence about an automotive accident, such as photographs, parts of the vehicle, electronically-stored information and interview witnesses in order to reach an independent conclusion regarding the evidence. The attorney then determines how to handle this evidence. Private investigators are also retained in a number of other cases. For example, they may be asked to assist in business fraud cases by posing as a party interested in an illegal or unethical practice. They may be retained by insurance companies when the injured victim claims to have suffered a disability but his or her social media pages show the individual is taking vacations or engaging in risky behaviors.

Specific Assistance

Individuals who believe that they may benefit from the use of a private investigator may wish to contact a few individuals to learn about the specific services that they offer. These services vary by the investigator and the location.