Ethics are moral principles; the guiding values of our behavior. The legal system has its roots based in ethics.
Legal ethics define a code of conduct that governs proper professional behavior. Private investigators must abide by a code of ethics, or they will not only jeopardize the case, but will ruin their reputation.
How do the ethics of a private investigator affect you and your case?
Colorado licensed investigators have specific statutes they must follow:
- There must be a contract in place.
- A report and detailed invoice must be submitted.
- The investigator must be licensed and bonded.
Such rules are in place to protect he client. You may go to the Department of Regulatory Agency (DORA) online, and look up the license of the investigator. If there are any ethical issues or disciplinary actions, you will be able see any past problems. There are further considerations as well, and you, the client, may learn more just through asking your investigator some questions. Other ethical issues may be:
Is there a conflict of interest? If an investigator has previously (or is presently) conducting investigations for the opposing party, there is conflict of interest.
Is what you’re asking for legal? An ethical investigator knows the laws, and will take the time to clarify what the legal system will and will not allow. This is not to suggest that you would ask deliberately for something illegal. Television and movies have not helped PIs in this area; what is done on the screen is not often the case with real life. For instance, an ethical investigator will not follow an ex, in order to tell you who they are now romancing. An ethical investigator will also not put you in touch with a criminal element that will willingly break the law in order to do what you want them to do.
Is what you’re asking for really what it is you want? An ethical investigator will talk with you, the client, during the consultation process. Oftentimes, clients will call an investigator thinking they need one specific service, without being aware there is another option available.
An ethical investigator will go through options, regardless of whether it means talking a client out of a job or explaining that it will cost much more than they expected. In other words, although the financial aspect of an investigation is important, an ethical investigator will not conduct unnecessary investigations, nor will they ‘pad the bill.’