Private Investigations and Personal Security/P.I. question


Hi Claude,
I have a quick question regarding a story I'm writing. If a client hires a private investigator, and the private investigator breaks the law while acting on the client's behalf (for example, assaulting a suspect), is there a chance that the client may also be held legally accountable for the actions of the private investigator? Can the client be sued?
Thank you for your help!


*** Disclaimer: I am not a licensed attorney and this is not to be taken as legal advice.

This is a very good question. I was just writing about this same topic. First off it would be predicated on what state this event took place. It would also be predicated on what type of crime was committed by the investigator and whether or not the client had prior knowledge of said crime in advance and or whether the client requested the investigator to commit it.

With all that said, especially here in California it is possible for anyone to file a lawsuit against any person. The real issue is whether or not the plaintiff has sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction and whether the defendant has a sufficient evidence to be exonerated.

The quick answer is, yes it is possible. I often tell my clients that what they ask of me is illegal and I will not lose my license because of their negligence and or ignorance. I also caution other colleague investigators that I do work for to insure that they are properly managing their clients. It is up to the Investigator to know the law and in California, the investigator would most likely be found solely responsible for his action in most cases.

However, if the investigator perpetrated a crime that was not a part of the scope of the investigation (IE-Theft, Assault, DUI, etc.) then there would be little hope to obtain a conviction against the client, unless the plaintiff can show proof that the client was negligent in his hiring of the investigator and as a result of this actions, the plaintiff sustained damages.

As you can see, this in not a yes or no question. There are numerous factors that would have to be considered. Nonetheless, it is possible for the client and or anyone to be sued especially in California. However, obtaining a conviction in a case such as this is another matter entirely.

I hope this is found to be useful in your writing endeavor.

         “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts”

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Blessings, Peace & Prosperity!          

Claude D. Ammons - QM
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Claude Ammons


I enjoy answering questions relating to private & general investigations including but not limited to locates, skip tracing, surveillance, stalking, child custody, criminal defense, civil, corporate security/executive protection, workplace violence/threat assessments, personal security, security surveillance systems and GPS tracking/monitoring products & services. Specifically, I answer questions regarding state laws concerning private investigation practices, as well as the best practices & standard operating procedures used by most reputable private investigative firms. I can give you state & federal references when dealing with issues that may or may not be legal in your specific state. IE- Some states have laws which conflict with federal law such as California's "2 party law" for surreptitious audio recordings. I offer tips on how to identify the right investigative firm for your particular case and what type of questions that investigative firm should be asking you. QUICK TIP #1: NEVER hire a Private Investigative firm that is not concerned about providing you a written contract that specifically outlines the agreement and responsibilities of both parties!!! A written contract should be expected & demanded by both investigative firm and client 95% of the time. I have numerous resources and will point you in the right direction. Whether it is hiring an attorney, a specialist or offering tips on conducting LEGAL investigations & research yourself. I offer advise regarding the kind of info you can legally obtain, what's not legal for you to obtain and when you need to hire a professional to obtain the info on your behalf. Lastly, I have over 20 yrs of experience as a Security Professional/Consultant and 12+ yrs within the Investigative profession. As the 2009 President of a state Private Investigation Association, I have professional knowledge, experience & established resources that supply me with the most recent legislative issues & industry trends.


Corinthian Group experience includes but not limited to all areas of surveillance including Workers Compensation Insurance Fraud, Domestic Infidelity Cases, Computer Investigations & Forensics, Personal Injury & Automobile Liabilty, Loss Prevention, theft interviewing & interrogation techniques, Under Cover assignments, Stalking prevention & suppression, surveillance tactics & countermeasures and surveillance system & lighting consultation experience. Corinthian Group also has experience in security consultation & protective services to the corporate & private sector. These services include Bodyguard/Executive Protection, identity theft prevention, work place violence & volitale terminations, GPS tracking/monitoring services, TSCM/Debugging( Technical Surveillance Countermeasures) and security system products & diagramming experience.

2009 PICA President (Professional Investigators of California Association) NCISS (National Council of Investigations & Security Services)-Member CALI (California Association of Licensed Investigators)-Member SCFIA (Southern California Fraud Investigators Association)-Member WAD (World Association of Detectives)-Member

Publications Hellium: Blog: and my m

PSO (Security Course) Weaponless Defense Tai Karate & MMA training Wicklander & Zulawski-Interview & Interrogation Techniques Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST)-832 Level 3 CA State licensed Private Investigator-CA PI # 23070 Law Enforcement Training Center-Computer Investigations

Awards and Honors
Elected as the Association President of PICA in 2009. PICA was an Association that focused on legislative bills that would have a negative impact on our profession if passed at the state level... PICA was a member oriented association that was positioning itselt to provide its members with resources to help them successful grow and or sustain their businesses. Awarded for presentation of GPS Tracking devices. Honored for service as the 2009 PICA President and the 2008 & 2007 PICA 2nd Vice President respectively.

Past/Present Clients
SCRMA (Southern California Risk Management Associates), Markel Insurance Corporation, Imhoff & Associations (Nationwide Criminal Defense Law Firm). Private clients are Confidential!

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