Can A Private Investigator Legally Follow You Around?
You’ve probably seen tons of movies and TV shows with a cloaked private investigator prowling through the streets, trying to gather information on a certain person. Whether it’s by following them around or taking nonstop pictures, a private investigator always makes it look so cool. But sadly, the reality is not as exciting as depicted on the big screen.
A PI, in real life, is not dressed in such an obvious manner, for starters. If anything, they prefer not to wear trench coats at all. Instead, they try to maintain a good distance when following their suspect, taking all the legal precautions. But is it even legal for PI to follow someone around? Or is it considered a criminal offense?
Is It Legal For A Private Investigator To Follow You Around?
Technically, yes. A private investigator can legally follow someone around in public places and take their pictures. Tailing a person is not considered an offense. However, all of this is restricted to just public spaces. The moment the suspect steps foot on private property, a PI will not be allowed to spy on them. This includes breaking and entering to take pictures of a person through their house window.
Moreover, a private investigator’s rights can be amended depending on the situation. For instance, even in a public setting, a PI can not arrest someone or pretend to be a law enforcement officer. Similarly, using hidden cameras and microphones is also prohibited.
How Long Can A Private Investigator Follow You?
There is no specific time limit for how long a private investigator can follow around. The duration of the investigation depends entirely on its purpose, along with the amount of evidence gathered by the PI. This is because a private investigator needs a certain amount of evidence to achieve their goal. At times, it may take only a few hours. While in other instances, a private investigator could conduct their business for several weeks.
In addition, a private investigator who is actively investigating a person must follow the law and respect the suspect’s privacy at all times. Ignoring these limitations can lead to severe consequences in a court of law. This can range from paying a fine to their license getting revoked, and sometimes, even criminal charges.
How To Know If A PI Is Spying On You
Private investigators are known to be sneaky. It’s really hard to tell when they’re spying on you. But sometimes, due to a misstep, they may accidentally give themselves away. If you think you are being followed by a PI, but aren’t sure about it, take the steps mentioned below to ensure your safety and uncover the truth.
- If you keep seeing the same vehicle over and over again, note down the license plate number.
- Sneak a quick picture of the person you think is following you, if possible.
- Note down anything that stands out in your neighborhood. Be it a car, parking space, trash can placement, etc.
- Take a look at your recycling bins to see if someone has been digging through your trash.
- If someone is following you on the highway, try to alter your path. Take random cuts and change your route. If the car is still behind you, you’re definitely being followed.
It’s Time To Heighten Your Security
Despite the shifty nature of the practice, a PI can legally follow their suspects around. However, if you think a private investigator is spying on you, make sure to inform your lawyer. Although if you would rather consider counter-surveillance, reach out to Main Security & Investigations. For more information, contact us at 281-574-1871 or visit 11221 Richmond Avenue, Suite C103, Houston, Texas 77082, opposite Vino Graphix.