Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a private detective and a private investigator?
The requirements for licensure vary from state to state. While in some cases and state jurisdictions, the two entities are synonymous and interchangeable, in the Kansas City area, the two names represent the two states' (Kansas and Missouri) licensing of professional investigators.
Since the late 1990’s, Kansas has required licensing by the Attorney General’s office of qualified individuals as "Private Detectives." In 2010, Missouri joined with the majority of states in requiring those who practice private investigations in Missouri to be licensed as "Private Investigators." The K.C. metro areas sit astride the state line of these two states, and as such an individual’s state licensing can be an important and required investigatory consideration, especially should the case be headed for court.
To conduct investigative work in either state, one or two licenses are required: 1) an individual "Private Detective" license (KS) or "Private Investigator" (MO) for those investigators either employed by an agency or operating as "sole practitioners," and 2) an agency license as a Private Detective Agency should an investigative entity employ detectives and / or investigators. Both the agency and the individual are licensed separately by that state's licensing authority. To obtain a Private Detective license in Kansas or a Private Investigator license in Missouri, one must be qualified per the state’s laws, take an examination pertaining to the statutes and related subjects, successfully pass a background check, and should one desire to carry a firearm, completing the requisite firearm training.
As in any profession, you have varying degree’s of competency, capability, and experience. In this investigative profession, there are some detective/investigators who are excellent, there are many who are average, and there are a few who are not any good at all. Like an employer hiring an employee, you should put yourself in that frame of mind when choosing an investigator.
If you are being referenced to an agency great, but if not, then start by doing your own research in an effort to learn about an agency or a single detective/investigator. Do you want an agency with all it’s capabilities and man power or do you think a single detective/investigator can do the investigation you need to have done? You need to determine which investigative agencies are available for the type of investigation needed and what geographical area do you need it done in? After obtaining several names, you should contact the individual agencies or investigators and arrange for a consultation with the agency owner or chief investigator in person or at least by telephone. Have a list of questions prepared, including a request for references.
Needless to say, advertisements saying great things about a company only tell you that the company has spent some time writing a nice ad about itself. It does not guarantee that you will get what you pay for or the quality of the service is worth the money spent.
You should also be sure that the investigator or agency is licensed, have insurance, and have considerable experience in the type of investigation that you need. This does not imply you should rule out someone new in the field. A new person may have more enthusiasm, but the lack of experience should be taken into consideration. In this regard, you should expect to pay less money for an inexperienced investigator than one who has years of experience and/or for an agency.
Private investigative rates range from a low of $50 per hour to a high of $75 per hour in this locale. Rates vary according to geographical area and degree of experience and expertise. Specialists performing in certain fields like TSCM, executive protection, fraud investigations, etc. often have higher rates. You should expect to pay less for an investigator who is new to the profession or who works in a rural area versus an investigator who works in an urban area and / or who works with an agency offering a great deal of experience and expertise. As in other professions, it is risky to choose an investigator because they are the cheapest. Someone who charges $50 per hour but is not able to do the job or do it effectively or efficiently is ultimately more expensive than an investigator who charges $65 - $75, able to complete the investigation in a shorter time frame and who, for example, has sourcing other investigators don’t have or have not developed yet.
It is a good idea to compare the capabilities, credentials, and rates of several investigative agencies or individuals in a particular area to determine what are the reasonable hourly rates you might expect to pay for your investigation. Keep in mind, as is the case with law firms, there are additional rates for services rendered in most cases (i.e. mileage, travel, court costs, and other case-related expenses).
Once you choose an agency or investigator, obtain a written contract covering the agreed upon rate(s) and spelling out the terms, conditions, and commitments of both parties to the investigation. Most investigative agencies, unless you are a corporate client, will require and work off retainer advances and / or a credit card retainer.
Two things bear into your decision: 1) No fault divorce states and 2) unless there are major extenuating circumstances involving infidelity, most courts "don’t want to hear about it." Unfortunately, with today’s society being what it is, cheating is so common place in divorce proceedings, "crying wolf," with regard to it, falls on deaf ears most of the time.
Both Kansas and Missouri are “no fault” divorce states. That means one can get a divorce for any reason. It’s like "no fault" insurance. simplified, no blame is attached ("you had an accident so go get it fixed and don’t cast blame."). No fault divorce implies a "fast track" divorce court without lengthy trials and the legal costs associated with such unless your case is unique.
In my opinion, spousal cheating and/or the suspicion that someone is cheating is a symptom of other problems in a relationship. Therefore, I counsel my clients that the first and best use of their money is to consider and seek out quality counseling, either individual or marriage counseling, to get at the root of the problem. If you need further answers, then we can provide investigative assistance.
We have several types of surveillance operations and each bears it’s own costs: static, mobile, GPS, and combinations of these in addition to cellular phone research to discover parties called. What they do is basically one thing: provide the answers of "who, where, when, how, maybe the why," etc. They can be expensive for the average person and often times inconclusive. Why? A variety of factors may come into play here….the “other person” may be out of town or on vacation or your actions may have alerted your spouse/significant other, and they're now overly-suspicious of you and your efforts to discover answers. If so, let the dust settle so the subject feels more comfortable before commencing with any investigatory efforts into their behavior. If they're overly cautious, then a) they will often postpone any rendezvous for a while, and b) they will probably be "tuned into" any surveillance efforts thus making it more costly for us to execute due to having the need for multiple surveils and vehicles to achieve success following them. I cannot stress enough, to the public wanting our services and who may never have spoken with a Private Detective, the need to work cost-effectively and not emotionally or irrationally. It's often difficult to separate the two while in the midst of an emotionally charged divorce or separation, but for us to be successful on your behalf, it needs to be done.
This isn’t the movies. You need to have realistic expectations of what professional surveillance can accomplish. In many instances, the cheating is blatant enough for the spouse to be caught within a reasonable amount of time. On the other hand, it may take a lot of surveillance for one or more investigators to be able to stay with the subject long enough or repeatedly enough to determine what is going on.
Now, after considering all the above, if you still really want to know the facts of the situation, then by all means, hire an agency or investigator to find out the answers you seek. The byproduct of the surveillance is normally taped evidence and a litigation report detailing the facts of the surveil.
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