Private Investigators and Extortion
Private investigators can have a difficult time doing their jobs. They have to be on their guard all the time so that they do not appear to be snooping or investigating, all in order to ensure that they are seeing the true state of things, and not something that is being acted out. They have to gain access to databases and look for information that may range from something as simple as a person’s phone number, to the entire background history of a witness in an important criminal case. They also need to operate within civil laws and take care that they do not violate any laws in the process of their investigating.
One such law is extortion. Extortion is a situation wherein a person threatens someone else in order to get something, usually a sum of money. The law itself covers all individuals, but private investigators can often fall into the extortion trap whenever they reach a point of desperation. For instance, a private investigator may interview witnesses, and then throw in the threat of taking a case to court if the witness does not sign a confession in the wording that the private investigator wants. Or, a private investigator may demand a certain amount of money from a person being tailed or investigated if the said person would like the investigation to stop.
There are many such documented cases wherein private investigators have indeed been charged with extortion. In one such case, a private investigator threatened to take a case to court unless one party wrote a statement of confession, and unless that party paid the private investigator money. In another documented case, a private investigator left indecent pictures of a person with that specific person, along with a note that threatened to show more indecent pictures in compromising places, and at the wrong times, unless that person would pay up his or her debts. By making such threats, these private investigators would not only have been charged with extortion, but would also have their licenses as private investigators revoked.
These are only a few aspects of extortion as they relate to the activities of private investigators. If you are a private investigator, you should not only be knowledgeable about these laws, but you should also be aware of the limits of your investigative activities: how far should you go when talking to clients, and what are the boundaries of your work as an investigator? These are only a few questions you should ask yourself as you continuously hone your skills and work toward being a better private investigator.