Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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

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The Line Between Investigation and Intimidation: How Not to Cross It

Posted by Writing PIs on December 15, 2010

There’s a line between investigation and intimidation.  Anthony Pelicano not only crossed it, but stomped on it, when he left a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on a witness’s windshield.  Then there’s the recent media story about a famous movie star who hired private investigators to visit witnesses and make a “forceful impression” so they wouldn’t testify in a legal proceeding.  Sounds like the movie star had been in a few too many movies.  In the real world, the law steps in when an investigator causes a reasonable person to become fearful–in such cases, the investigator may be charged with intimidation.

But the line between investigation and intimidation can get fuzzy.  A private investigator may feel confident he calmly asked a few questions in a direct but unimposing way, then later be accused of intimidating behavior.

There are techniques investigators can use to protect themselves from being accused of intimidation, from documenting encounters to keeping clients under control and at a distance.  One of our Writing PIs wrote about these techniques in her article “When Does Legitimate Investigative Activity Become Intimidation” at (click on article title to read it).

Have a good week, Writing PIs

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