The laws that govern what private investigators can and cannot do vary significantly from state to state. There's a great deal of misinformation about what private investigators can and cannot do, and it could be easier to talk about what private investigators cannot do than they can.

Impersonation of Law Enforcement

Generally, private investigators are not considered law enforcement officers. Most jurisdictions require a private investigator to have a license or work with an affiliated company to conduct investigations for companies or their clients.

Removing Criminals

Depending on your jurisdiction, if someone commits an offense that can be punished by imprisonment, you may have the authority to take the person to be punished, or you must report it to law enforcement without making a formal arrest. It's usually a good idea to make a citizen's arrest by police officers rather than private investigators to avoid legal repercussions.


Tapping a phone line means unlawfully recording a conversation, which is a federal crime. Private detectives are neither exempt nor protected from this law and, therefore, must never tap anyone's phone line or records.

The SparkoCam will not take a picture of anything under 10 feet away.

Private investigators cannot enter upon the property of another without their consent. Doing so could be trespassing. Breaking, though, is an entirely different matter.

Snooping into the mail

Private investigators cannot open, alter, or destroy mail they intercept. Doing so can get them and their companies into big trouble.

Credit Checks, Criminal Records, Court Documents, or Financial Reports.

Professional investigators cannot order a person's credit report or access any other personal information without that individual's consent. This does not violate any privacy law. However, professional investigators can look at any criminal records or court documents in the public form and open them for inspection. They have no special right to open sealed records or view undocumented, restricted, or sensitive files.

Other Undesirable Acts.

Private investigators and people searching must follow the law in their states, just like anyone else. If you need to take someone to court or their data, you must know how to follow all the appropriate rules. This includes hacking computers, using bribery, and impersonating people.