Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

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Can a Minor Hire a Private Detective?

Posted by Writing PIs on November 17, 2012

Today we’re answering a reader’s question: “Could a minor hire a private detective?”

Answer: A minor can hire a private detective so long as the minor’s request is legal.  In other words, just like with adults, a minor can’t hire a PI to conduct such illegal activities as harassment, stalking or  intimidation.  The minor must also have the ratification of the minor’s parents.  This flows from a rule of contract law pertaining to a minor’s ability to enter into binding contracts.  To paraphrase, this rule says that minors can enter into enforceable contracts so long as they have their parents’ assent.

Perhaps a more important question is:  Would a private investigator want to be hired by a minor?

A PI having his/her actions directed by someone under the age of 18 is exposing him/herself to liability and professional criticism.  If something were to go wrong during the investigation–say, an unexpected confrontation between the PI and the object of the investigation–there could be a challenge to the PI’s exercise of professional judgement.  Let’s say the object of the investigation, upset about the confrontation, files a professional negligence lawsuit against the PI, accusing him/her of harassment and invasion of privacy.  The plaintiff might use, as a damning circumstance, that this so-called “professional” PI was taking orders from a minor.  The PI could look bad, even very bad, in court when he/she admits they were working a case being directed by a teenager.

Great question!

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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