Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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

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Archive for the ‘Suspicious Death’ Category

Answering Writers’ Questions: Riding Along with a PI, Hiring PIs in Cases Involving Foul Play

Posted by Writing PIs on March 27, 2015

eye and magnifying glass

Today we’re answering writers’ questions about riding along with PIs, civilians hiring PIs in cases  involving foul play, and police hiring PIs.

WRITER’S QUESTION: I’ve heard that a client riding along with the PI is illegal in some states. How would we know which states it is illegal in? I’m sure there will be other things that come up that vary from state to state? Should we call a PI from our state to ask?

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: Calling a PI in your state is a good resource. If you are in a state where PIs are licensed, contact the licensing authority for guidance on these matters (typically this licensing authority will be within the state dept. of regulatory agencies or the state police).

Personally, we have had writers ask to join us while we work a case (for example, on a surveillance), but we always say no for various reasons (client confidentiality and insurance being two). The only time we broke this policy was for a reporter who was writing a story about us for a newspaper — she accompanied us on a process service and a trash hit.

WRITER’S QUESTION: In my story, I have a client hiring a PI to investigate her husband’s death. detective with flashlightShe felt there was more involved than him being killed during a B&E. Is this correct — do people hire PIs if they feel their loved ones met with foul play?

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: Absolutely they do.

WRITER’S QUESTION: Do police hire PIs for help? I have another story where the police call in a PI to help catch a guy who has been selling black market items.

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: More likely, the police would cooperate with PIs on a case (although this isn’t common, it has certainly occurred. For example, a few years back, the NY police cooperated with local PIs to break a theft ring in the garment district).

However, a key reason the police would not hire (versus cooperate with) PIs is that by their employing a private citizen (such as a PI), the police lose “the color of government authority” including the ability to obtain warrants, rely on rules for search/seizure (such as the fellow officer rule), and finally the law enforcement agency concerned does not want the liability of a contract employee who is more than likely carrying a weapon and who very well may not carry enough insurance.

Saying all this, it is plausible that a government agency other than a law-enforcement agency might hire a PI to do an independent investigation. Here in Colorado, a county commissioner office hired a Denver PI to conduct an investigation of sexual harassment and financial misappropriation by an elected county official, who could not have been independently investigated by the sheriff’s office for that county (because of the close ties between the two offices, both elected offices).

Have a great week, Writing PIs

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority.

Posted in Are Cops and PIs Compatible?, Q&As, Real-Life Private Investigator Stories, Suspicious Death | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Answering Writers’ Questions: Riding Along with a PI, Hiring PIs in Cases Involving Foul Play

Answering Writer’s Question: Suspicious Death and a Missing Will

Posted by Writing PIs on October 15, 2013

eye and magnifying glass

As private investigators, we’ve investigated several cases where there has been a suspicious transfer of estate property after a death.  As Shaun, one of the Guns, Gams & Gumshoes’s authors, has returned to the practice of law, his background ties into our answer as well.

WRITER’S QUESTION: My question is with regards to access to information. In my story, a woman has died under suspicious circumstances, and the police officer investigating the case has been unable to find a will on the premises or any indication of who the deceased’s lawyer might be, and the case is closed. Later, the officer hears some rumors about the will that leads him to believe he shouldn’t have closed the investigation. He wants to see the will and finally finds the name of the lawyer holding it, and discusses his concerns with him, but the lawyer refuses to share any information.

Unfortunately, the officer’s supervisor doesn’t want to re-open the case. So my questions are: If the officer convinced his supervisor to re-open the case, would the lawyer likely share the information or does the officer need a warrant from the court before the lawyer will release any information?

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: The lawyer’s client is deceased, but the lawyer is still considered to represent the estate of the deceased. However, if the lawyer suspects that someone has committed a crime in order to take advantage of an inheritance, the lawyer is under an ethical obligation to facilitate the investigation. The lawyer would be inclined to cooperate with the officer in spite of what the supervising officer might want.

Posted in Suspicious Death | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Answering Writer’s Question: Suspicious Death and a Missing Will

 
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