Many books have been written about private investigation. The authors of most of them state that investigation is about finding the truth. While this is not wrong, neither is it exactly right. Truth is a funny thing; it's often dependent upon perspective. Not to insinuate that there's no truth or lie, good or bad, black or white — but truth often hides in the areas between these concepts, where it's difficult to find. Sometimes, real problems arise when these areas become so murky that truth is impossible to determine with any real certainty. At this point, truth must often be determined in a court of law by someone other than the investigator. At some junctures of the investigative process, truth is actually irrelevant.
The only thing relevant at all times and at all stages of the investigative process is evidence. Investigators are looking for information that translates into evidence, not truth. Evidence can lead to what appears to be — but it is not always — the truth. Of course, everyone wants to uncover the truth, yet a successful investigation can be conducted even though truth remains in question. The investigator's job is to seek out, develop, and collect information, then deliver it in an understandable form that can be presented in court should this become necessary.
What is truth? Truth may seem to be fairly obvious. It may be presented in a document or public record that must be correct, right? Not always. What if that document, or part of it, has been forged or incorrectly recorded?
More “truth” may be presented in the form of video recordings. This type of evidence is guaranteed, isn't it? If it can be seen and heard, it has to be true, right? Wrong again. Recordings can be altered or edited, videos can be of such poor quality as to make identification questionable or impossible. Remember those grainy, blurry videos on the nightly news? Many surveillance cameras are not capable of doing the job for which they are installed. All video evidence must be verified.
This book does not presume to guide those looking for truth, but it will prepare anyone to find evidence. This is an overview of the field of private investigation, not an exhaustive examination of the subject, but there is something here for every reader. Everyone from the interested amateur to the seasoned professional will be able to glean nuggets of information that will make the reading of this book more than worthwhile. For the new investigator or one about to take the plunge, time and experience will add to the information contained here. Also, remember that laws, technology, and Internet resource links change, so check before you act.
The umbrella term “private investigation” covers a range of services. Some of these include divorce/infidelity; child custody; missing persons; insurance investigation; business/corporate security; and special investigations including legal and hidden camera investigation, bounty hunting, and cyber-sleuthing — all topics that this book will explore.
However, The Everything® Private Investigation Book is not just for readers at some stage of investigative experience; it's also an invaluable resource for journalists and novelists, students of criminal justice, those needing to do back-ground checks on employees or tenants, and self-appointed armchair detectives. It's interesting reading for the knowledge-seekers of this world — those who just want to know how things, and people, work.
While the real-world practice of private investigation is not exactly what has been portrayed in novels and movies and shown on television, it's still one of the most rewarding and entertaining professions on the planet — but it can be dangerous. Anyone whose goal is to work as a private investigator must be sure that she has what it takes to do this job well, along with a willingness to cultivate the skills and knowledge necessary to do it safely. She must also be absolutely sure to use her investigative powers to make the world a better place.