What Can a Private Investigator Do and NOT Do for You?


When all we have our movies and assumptions to figure out what private investigators do, most of us end up thinking they are the kind of professionals who break into buildings to get sensitive information, follow people around, and then take photos of them in secrecy or perform different types of acts that in reality private investigators are not allowed to do. 

To learn the truth of what goes on behind the life of an investigator, we reached out to Michael Julian, considered one of the best security professional private investigators of our time. 

In 1995, Julian joined the California Association of Licensed Investigators (CALI), where he worked as the District Governor on the Legislation and Technology Committee, By-Laws Chairman, and Education & Training Task Force. He is also featured as a security expert for the Los Angeles and ABC Channel 7 News, contributing to Fox News Laura Ingraham and Jesse Watters shows. 

Moreover, Julian has been licensed in many states as a private investigator, security professional, and security consultant for various organizations where he provides personal and asset security solutions. Julian is also a part of ASIS International, where he became an Executive Protection Counsel Member in 2018, an Executive Protection Steering Committee Member in 2019, and then the Social Media Committee Chairman in 2020. 

Through him, we learned several things that gave us an insight into what real investigators can and cannot do. 

Private Investigators Are Not Allowed to Arrest People 

In many circumstances, private investigators have no more authorization to arrest a person than any non-sworn law enforcement officer. They can, however, document the crime occurring – as long as they ensure they are not breaking any laws while doing so. 

This will eventually lead to the person’s arrest – not by the investigator – but by legal authorities. Only a few states allow private investigators to arrest if it is legal within their jurisdiction, but most states do not. 

Consent Is Necessary to Move on With Investigations 

Many kinds of information require private investigators to ask for consent before they can say anything. This information includes financial records, bank accounts, or even phone records. 

Private investigators can find out where someone has their bank, for instance, but they cannot tell how much money the person has in their account. When given consent, a private investigator has more liberty to view phone records or any other information that can serve a relevant purpose within their case.

There are many different things that private investigators are allowed to do, given the information they are provided with when they are hired in the beginning. Although, they must follow federal and local laws so that they can go about their investigations through legal means and refrain from taking unnecessary actions to acquire information without consent.

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