It seems many people’s beliefs are based on what they have seen on drama series on television. I say this because during my early years as a private investigator, I would get calls from prospective clients wanting to know how much I charged for “roughing” someone up. Or breaking a few bones. I would explain that I was not licensed for roughing someone up or breaking bones, and that this would be illegal for anyone to do. This would be met with disappointment from the client. They thought such activities, if done by a licensed private investigator, were acceptable, since it was common practice on their favorite TV PI series. Another common request involved me trespassing in order to obtain information they wanted. They fail to realize, that with few exceptions, private investigators have no more authority that every other citizen.
I often receive phone calls to perform illegal activities. In some instances the requester does not know the activity is illegal and in some cases they don’t care. One of the more common requests is to surreptitiously place a recording device on their home phone. The purpose of this activity would be to catch the spouse calling their boyfriend/girlfriend. Recording or monitoring a conversation, to which the person is not a party, is illegal both in Kansas and at the federal level. Kansas, most other states, and federal law require that at least one person who is a party to the conversation have knowledge of the recording or monitoring. Thus, an individual could record a conversation by phone or in person, without the other parties knowing, if he/she is a known party to the conversation. The law is based on a person’s reasonable right to privacy. When I explain this to the potential clients, they either thank me for my time, or ask if Radio Shack has the equipment to accomplish the task. I reiterate that the activity is illegal and that I neither conduct illegal activities, nor advise others who wish to do it themselves. It should be noted that there are a few states that require all parties to a conversation to be aware that the conversation is being recorded. So, check the laws in your state prior to initiating such activity. And, when in doubt, check with an attorney.
Many calls I receive are requests for surveillance on spouses. In most cases, the requesting party has not yet consulted an attorney. They want me to follow their spouse to see if he/she is cheating on them. I generally refer them to an attorney if they are contemplating a divorce, or to a counselor if they want to attempt to work things out. Although I am not an attorney, my experience over the years is that judges don’t take infidelity into account when deciding issues involving division of assets or custody. So spending money to prove such behavior is likely not necessary. However, these issues should be addressed by an attorney with the individual. If the attorney feels surveillance will provide evidence that can be used in court, then I will discuss the possibility of providing a surveillance. Surveillance is generally very costly due to the number of hours involved. If the person under surveillance has no set routine that is known to their spouse, the investigator could spend many hours on the surveillance without obtaining any significant evidence. Since fees for private investigations often run from $60 to $100 an hour, plus mileage and expenses, fees can grow quite large during a long surveillance. Most private investigators require a substantial retainer up front before starting a surveillance. Unless the client is willing to pay for additional investigators to assist on the surveillance, the surveillance will consist of one investigator. Prior to the surveillance, the client will need to determine whether it is more important that the spouse not detect the surveillance, or that the investigator not lose sight of the spouse. A one man mobile surveillance is difficult, and with an alert spouse, the surveillance can result in the investigator either being burned or losing contact with the spouse. Either way, its money spent with no results.
Per K.S.A. Chapter 60-303 (d) (4) – In all cases when the person to be served, or an agent authorized by the person to accept service of process, refuses to receive copies thereof, the offer of the duly authorized process server to deliver copies thereof, and the refusal, shall be a sufficient service of the process.
Service of process of legal papers originating in Kansas courts can be served by Kansas Licensed Private Detectives without the detective needing to be appointed by a judge. Per K.S.A. Chapter 60-303 (d) (3) – Service, levy and execution of all process under this subsection, including, but not limited to, writs of execution, orders of attachment, replevin orders, orders for delivery, writs of restitution and writs of assistance, shall be made by a sheriff within the sheriff’s county, by the sheriff’s deputy, by an attorney admitted to the practice of law before the supreme court of Kansas, by a person licensed as a private detective pursuant to K.S.A. 75-7b01 et seq., and amendments thereto, or by some person appointed as a process server by a judge or clerk of the district court, except that a subpoena may also be served by any other person who is not a party and is not less than 18 years of age. Process servers shall be appointed freely and may be authorized either to serve process in a single case or in cases generally during a fixed period of time. A process server, authorized attorney or licensed private detective may make the service anywhere in or out of the state and shall be allowed the fees prescribed in K.S.A. 28-110, and amendments thereto, for the sheriff and such other fees and costs as the court shall allow. All persons authorized under this subsection to serve, levy and execute process shall be considered an “officer” as used in K.S.A. 60-706 and 60-2401, and amendments thereto.