Sure, you know now that Hollywood romanticizes private investigator life. This is not a free-for-all, and private investigators don't have an all-out-pass to do whatever you want them to. This is not a "James Bond" profession.

Aside from modest cars and abiding the law, what should you expect from an investigator, and what makes a good investigator? Here is what we, at Roman PI, can explain to you:

What To Look For:

When looking for a Private Investigator, keep in mind that not all private investigators are the same. This translates into years solving cases as a private investigator or working on the force at a police station. Keep in mind that experience is not the only thing to look for. They also need to be licensed. Being licensed gives the investigators more clout and authority on a stakeout than just a regular guy in a car with a camera.

Roman PI handles a wide-variety of cases; whether you need us to investigate an infidelity case, find money overseas, or perform background check on a potential employee; we have the expertise to handle it. Roman PI has been in licensed since 1987; a former Santa Clara County Sheriff, Frank Roman has years of police work experience, including homicide & criminal cases.

What To Expect:

Even before the investigation begins, your private investigator should go over what the case involves. Roman PI will clearly explain what we will, and will not do. Integrity and transparency is key. We will not break the law for your case. Everything we do must be able to stand up in a court of law, should your case go there. 

One of the most important aspects is that clients can expect complete confidentiality. No one except your investigator knows about the details of your case other than you, or your approved points of contact.

There are times, however, when an investigator will contact the police who already have the details on the case, but that’s standard procedure. Otherwise, the information of the case are just between you and your PI.

Clear Communication:

At Roman PI, clear communication between the client and investigator is a priority. Although, we do not call with a "play-by-play", you are able to call and find out what the status is at any given point of the case.

What we will NOT do:

  • Break The Law
    • Private Investigators are regular people, with regular powers. Roman PI has expertise in gaining information, but we certainly don’t have special powers that say we don’t have to abide by the law. Sure, private investigators can crack a case that a normal civilian can’t. But that doesn’t mean we don't have to follow standard laws. What makes private investigators different from your average person, however, are our experience, tools, and resources. Roman PI is a California licensed private investigator which helps us avoid harassment or stalking charges while sitting on a house or following a person of interest. After all, we aren’t cops (any more) and must follow the law like every other citizen. As such, there’s a lot of red tape private investigators can encounter. 
    • In addition to limitations on how information can be obtained and other investigation techniques, a private investigator cannot harass a subject, trespass on private property, use bribery, hacking, pretexting (impersonating the individual whose records they are trying to obtain), or other deceitful methods for obtaining information, and cannot break the law on behalf of their client for investigative purposes. 
  • Operate Without a License
    • In California, an investigator must complete 6,000 hours of paid investigative work under a licensed investigator over the course of three years (or fewer hours over a shorter period of time depending on relevant advanced degrees and law enforcement background), get fingerprinted, submit an application packet, and pass the California Private Investigator Examination before they can work as a licensed private investigator. Roman PI has been licensed in the state of California since 1987.
  •  Impersonate Law Enforcement 
    • We cannot carry a badge, wear a uniform, or use any logo or phrasing that could imply that we are a police officer or federal official. This prevents private investigators from misleading individuals about our association with government agencies. In some cases, private investigators will wear badges and uniforms that indicate we are private investigators, and we will often work in conjunction with local law enforcement or federal officials.
  • Participate in Unethical Practices 
    •  An unethical practice would put an individual in danger, include obtaining information for non-investigative purposes, or using unscrupulous methods. One example would be locating an individual and providing that person's information to a stalker or person who might put that person's safety at risk. Another would be looking up information on former classmates or friends for personal purposes outside of an investigation. 
  • Trespass 
    •  A private investigator cannot enter a property, house, or building through illegal means, including breaking and entering. Though trespassing laws vary from state to state, in some jurisdictions the investigator must have permission from the owner before entering a property. Some private investigators in states like Illinois will be allowed an exemption to trespassing laws if they are working as a process server to serve legal documents. 
  •  Enter Your Home or Place of Business Without Consent 
    •  A private investigator cannot enter your residence or business without consent, and if asked to leave must do so immediately. In line with this, we cannot use forced entry or lock picking to get inside. 
  • Tamper with Mail 
    •  Tampering with, opening, or destroying another person’s mail is a federal offense. 
  •  Wiretap a Phone Without Consent 
    •  According to federal law, private investigators are prohibited from wiretapping, or monitor phone conversations, without consent from at least one of the individuals, depending on the state. 38 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, have statutes that require one party to consent to the recording of a conversation, while the remaining 12 states require consent from all individuals involved in the recording. In many cases, a warrant is required to legally tap a phone, and private investigators will sometimes work with local police enforcement in order to avoid breaking any local or federal laws. 
  • Film a Subject Through a Window to a Private Home 
    •  Investigators are generally allowed to film exchanges and interactions that take place in public, but they cannot film the interior of private property through an open window. 
  •  Record a Conversation of Which No Party Has Knowledge 
    • Depending on the jurisdiction, in order to legally record a conversation at least one person involved must be aware that they are being recorded. In some states, both parties must be alerted ahead of time. A private investigator can, however, eavesdrop on a conversation that takes place in public or is naturally loud enough to hear. 
  • Place a GPS Tracker on a Vehicle Without Consent 
    • GPS trackers can only be placed on vehicles with the consent of an owner. For example, if a husband wants to put a tracker on the car his wife drives, he can only do so if the car is in his name, not hers. An employer cannot place a GPS tracker on an employee's private car, but they can place a tracker on a company-owned vehicle, provided they have gone through the proper steps of consent. 
  • Hack Into a Social Media or Email Account 
    • Hacking of any sorts just isn't what a private investigator does. Some investigators have software that allows them to access information about profiles, like when photos were posted and pulling data on where the person was at the time, but a private investigator will not attempt to gain access to a social media account that belongs to another person. 
  • Run a License Plate Without Reason 
    • A private investigator cannot run a license plate unless we have a legal reason to do so. This means that a private investigator will generally run a license plate only for investigative purposes (i.e. when attempting to locate a person or conducting a background check) or for future use in a court proceeding. 
  • Run a Credit Check 
    • As a credit report is considered private information, a private investigator must have written consent from the individual in order to run a credit check. If granted consent, a private investigator must also have a legal purpose for running a credit check before doing so. 
  • Obtain Protected Information Without Consent or Legal Purpose 
    • Although wey can find the location of the information, which can be helpful in asking for a subpoena, private investigators cannot obtain federally or state protected information without consent of the individual or a subpoena. These restrictions apply to various documents, including:
      • Bank Accounts 
        • A private investigator can identify the location of bank accounts associated with a specific individual, but does not have access to specific information about these accounts. Unless we have obtained permission from the account holder, a private investigator must be granted a formal demand such as a court order to legally access the files.
      • Financial Records 
        • Account-specific information, like transaction history, can't be obtained without either a court order or permission from the card or account holder.
      • Phone Records 
        • Through legitimate investigative methods, an investigator can find out what carrier or person is associated with a given phone number, but because phone records are considered private and protected by both federal and state statutes, a private investigator cannot obtain those records without a court order or subpoena.
  • Make a Legal Arrest In the U.S.
    • private investigators are not authorized to make an arrest. However, in some countries (the U.S. and Canada included) certain circumstances allow an individual not associated with law enforcement to make a citizen’s arrest. Some states require written consent for a private investigator to make a specific arrest, while other jurisdictions only authorize citizen’s arrest when the individual is endangering the public, or when a federal offense is witnessed. Citizen's arrests are rare in the investigative field. Some states will allow a private investigator to serve an arrest warrant under special circumstances. Obtain Cell Phone Records Without a Warrant An investigator cannot access cell phone records without a warrant or consent of the individual who holds the records. In most instances, a private investigator can get comparable evidence through other methods.

Some of this information was obtained from