Private Investigations and Personal Security/P.I.'s & Police


I'm a writer, and I've been working on a story about a P.I.   From my research, I know that a P.I. cannot act as a law enforcement official or make arrests.  However, if a P.I. were hired by a family member to investigate a murder case that has gone cold and the P.I. managed to identify a new suspect or find new evidence against a previous suspect, would they then work with law enforcement after that?  Basically, I'm trying to figure out if a P.I. "solves" a murder case, do they then go to police and report it?  And would a P.I.'s investigation be taken seriously enough for the police to make an arrest based on the information?  

I'm very curious to know the process and how closely the FBI (or even local police) cooperates with a P.I. or P.I. Agency.

Thank you very much for your time.


Great question! For starters anyone can make a citizens arrest provided they understand the law in that regard. Based from my recollection of the laws and assuming that there hasn't been any changes in these laws in California. Here are the parameters:

1- A citizen can make an arrest when the offense was committed in their presence. (Generally a misdemeanor crime)
2- The person being arrested committed a felony, although not in the citizens presence.
3- A felony was committed and the citizens has reasonable cause and or evidence that the suspect being arrested committed the offense.

With that said, a Private Investigator is a private citizen and it would be up to the investigator to decide whether they should make the arrest or obtain assistance from Law Enforcement. The citizens arrest statute was created to prevent and or reduce the threat of a false imprisonment lawsuits for citizens assisting law enforcement. However, if the citizen is wrong in their assessment then they would assume the liability of any impending lawsuit.

Most citizens are probably more concerned about the potential violence and or retribution from those they have arrested plus the threat of a lawsuit for being wrong is wrong is also a deterrent. However, if the arresting citizen has substantial evidence and has the required skills needed to properly restrain a perpetrator then it would increase the likelihood that an arrest could be made. Retail Loss Prevention agents (private citizens) often arrest shop lifters based on the above parameters.

Nonetheless, a smart investigator would look at the admissibility and significance of the evidence and share it with the law enforcement agency assigned to that specific jurisdiction. In most cases, Law Enforcement are willing to work with Private Investigators. However, the type of crime, seriousness of the crime (victim vs victim-less crimes), the busyness of the law enforcement department and the admissibility of the evidence will all be deciding factors in Law Enforcement's involvement.

The key issue is liability. If Law Enforcement works with the Private Investigator and makes the arrest then they assume ALL the liability. If the Private Investigator makes the arrest, then the PI assumes ALL the liability...

I hope this was helpful.

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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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