Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

  • Writing a Sleuth?

    A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

    "How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike."

    Available on Kindle

  • Copyright Notices

    All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content on this site (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Any violations of this reservation will result in legal action.

    It has come to our attention that people are illegally copying and using the black and white private eye at a keyboard image that is used on our site. NOTE: This image is protected by copyright, property of Colleen Collins.

  • Writing PIs on Twitter

  • Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes

  • Advertisements

Answering Writer’s Question About PIs Using Disguises in Undercover Work

Posted by Writing PIs on November 8, 2010

Today we’re posting a question, and our answer, from a writer about a sleuth character conducting undercover work in a disguise.

Writer’s Question: Is it okay for a PI to do surveillance undercover in a disguise to gain access to the private area? I mean, if the client welcomes him into the home as a cleaning person, it wouldn’t be trespassing and the PI could snoop without ‘disturbing’ anything. Or would that be frowned upon because it’s considered getting evidence under false pretenses?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: We love the cleaning person scenario! But let’s look at it this way–what could be objectionable about this pretense? Any pretense that is too extreme and/or involves harm to the person or property of the surveillance subject is more likely to be found illegal. Lately, a lot of lawyers have become nervous about pretexts and pretenses because federal investigators frown on wide-scale use of made-up reasons and scenarios to obtain private information.  Using a cleaning person as a pretense to gain admission to a home by consent effectively cancels that consent, turning the entry into a trespass.

In a story, it could be very interesting if the fictional PI risks conducting this trespass deception, then sees something in the house that can later be recovered by lawful means.  At this point, if the PI is selectively silent about the trespass, the PI could use the lawfully obtained information in court without revealing the earlier illegal prextextual entry.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: