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Investigator Ethics for the PI, Consumer and Client

Ethics are professional standards that investigators must follow, particularly if retained by an attorney as their agent
4.3 (24 ratings)
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1,954 students enrolled
Last updated 3/2015
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  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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Our agency has operated for over 25 years in Colorado, an unlicensed state until 2012 (voluntary, as was our agency) and mandatory in 2015. During this time it was greatly misunderstood that ethics applied to investigators - even a District Court judge ruled that without licensure there are no private investigator ethics in Colorado. This refutes that ruling and informs the student - from consumer to attorney, and interested to veteran private investigator - that there are ethics that must be followed and apply to both investigator/consumer and investigator/attorney relationships. Ethics serve both professional and consumer protection. Only facts obtained ethically can be evidence - facts without ethics is not evidence.

Who is the target audience?
  • Private Investigators, Attorneys, Consumers, Students, Criminal Justice, Debt Collection, Insurance
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What Will I Learn?
Understand the ethics of private investigations - as an investigator, consumer or client.
View Curriculum
  • There are no prerequisites. This is designed for the interested, new or veteran investigator, attorneys and consumers.
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 11 Lectures Collapse All 11 Lectures 57:46
Introduction to Professional Investigator Ethics
3 Lectures 06:41

This course is designed for any person interested in being a private investigator or hiring a private investigator - from new to veteran, attorney to consumer. It is designed to be an informative course on those ethics that are most often unknown, forgotten or misunderstood. This is also available by podcast and an included guide of all the lectures and visuals.

Who is this course for? Private Investigators, Attorneys, and Consumers.

As the consumer or potential client of attorney and/or investigative services, it is important to understand the unique relationship that may exist between them, and how it may relate to your case.

Preview 03:06

Common ethical issues that arise include:

  • Using a ruse and false identities
  • Personal or other inappropriate contact with a represented opposing party
  • Surreptitiously recording conversations
  • Entering onto private property or other prohibited area
  • Extending any contact (lawful or not) with a party into a relationship beyond the scope of the assignment.
Preview 02:53
Professional Investigator Ethics
6 Lectures 40:39

It is well known that laws and regulations are the parameters in which persons act, personally and professionally. Unfortunately, these laws are not often known well enough.

Preview 02:32

This is an actual civil scenario, with the type of case changed and identities protected for this course. Dean testified as an expert in private investigations and investigative protocols. The acts of the defense private investigators were potentially very damaging to the plaintiff's case.

Preview 09:30

Many private investigators, and essentially most consumers, do not realize that when an attorney hires the investigator that also extends the attorney-client relationship and attorney work-product privilege to the investigator. This protects all three, and particularly the consumer.

The Attorney-Investigator Relationship

Many private investigators, and essentially most consumers, do not realize that when a consumer is represented by an attorney, no party to the opposing side may contact them without permission. This extends to the private investigator.

Personal or other inappropriate contact with a represented opposing party

  • Although entrapment can only be the action of law enforcement and is criminal, all reputable professional investigator associations have an ethics clause against entrapment.
  • It is generally unethical to give a leading or misleading statement as it may produce a response that would not otherwise be the normal words of the subject.
  • Although an individual cannot violate another's Constitutional rights, it is generally unethical to perform any duty or action that would violate a person's Constitutional rights.
Entrapment, Misleading Questions, and Violating a Person’s Rights

Recording a conversation – from telephone to in-person – is guided by state and federal law.It is also guided by professional ethics, which may be more restrictive.It is important to understand these guidelines.

Surreptitiously recording conversations
Bringing it all together...
2 Lectures 10:18

Each party to the relationship is guided by ethics, or Professional Rules of Conduct. Private Investigators are guided by both their own ethics (including any association membership ethics) and those of any attorney that retains them. As a consumer, it is important to be made aware of them.

What do the professional ethics mean?

This course is offered by live speaking engagements to private investigator associations nationwide. Although some ethics may vary by state, most are guided by the American Bar Association. If unsure about a situation in which an ethical issue applies, first check with a reliable source for any interpretation of any Rules of Professional Conduct.

Closing Review the Sample Scenario and Course
About the Instructor
3.5 Average rating
41 Reviews
2,049 Students
3 Courses
Legal Investigators and Expert Consultants

Dean A. Beers, CLI, CCDI began his investigative career in 1987. He is a Certified Legal Investigator and Certified Criminal Defense Investigator, and expert consultant / witness in criminal defense homicide and civil equivocal death investigations. He is certified in Medicolegal Death Investigations and is a POST certified instructor, and experienced forensic autopsy assistant.

He has lectured extensively and authored multiple articles, peer-reviewed white papers, and provided expert testimony on Protocols of Private Investigation, and Forensic Investigations of Injury Pattern Analysis (including Blood Pattern Analysis) and Death Investigations (including Protocols and Standards), as well as consulted as a subject matter expert in Equivocal Death Analysis, Injury Causation, Time of Death, Crime Scene Analysis, Investigative Protocol, Evidence Protocol, and Forensic Photography.

Karen S. Beers, BSW, CCDI, began her investigative career in 1996, also earning her Bachelor's in Social Work from Colorado State University (Magna Cum Laude).She is also a Certified Criminal Defense Investigator (CCDI) and certified in Medicolegal Death Investigations. In addition to being a subject matter expert in death investigations, her background, education and experience with victim advocacy and counseling are valuable assets in working with families and victims of traumatic events.

As a death investigator Karen was involved in the investigations of all manners of deaths and incidents, training under three Forensic Pathologists. From 2004-2006 she investigated and assisted with numerous death cases and scenes, and assisted with forensic autopsies.

As Team Beers, they provide Expert Consultations and Legal Investigations of Death and Injury Causation in Civil, Criminal and Probate litigation – Together We're Better!

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