If you have pursued and obtained a license as a private investigator in New York, you know it's not exactly like it's depicted in the movies. "Private eyes" have to meet stringent experience requirements in New York--either three years working in investigation or 20 years of service as a cop--plus they must be bonded and pass a grueling exam in order to be licensed. Additionally, private investigators are highly regulated by the Department of State (DoS), and they are held to strict standards of accountability and practice.
All that to say, you've invested a great deal into your career as a private investigator--which is why it can be so devastating to find out you are under investigation yourself over alleged misconduct.
Whether the complaint against your license originated from a misunderstanding, an honest mistake, or a flat-out false accusation, the DoS takes all complaints against PIs seriously and investigates them thoroughly. If there is any evidence suggesting the validity of a complaint, then disciplinary charges could be brought up against you, and your license may be put in danger.
While this may seem intimidating, there is still hope. By engaging a skilled New York license defense attorney, your chances of retaining your private investigator license increase significantly. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his License Defense Team are highly experienced with disciplinary cases similar to yours, and he and his team will strive to achieve the best possible outcome for you. To discuss your case, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
Reasons a New York Licensed Private Investigator Could Lose Their License
Private investigators must comply with strict ethical and professional standards and regulations while carrying out their duties. Most allegations that could threaten your license involve violations of these rules. Common examples include:
- Unethical practices. Examples include employing harassment or intimidating tactics to obtain information, blackmail, false advertising, etc.
- Fraud. Examples include forging documents, providing services without a license, making false statements to clients or law enforcement officers, etc.
- Impersonating a police officer. A PI must never assume legal authority they do not have, such as pretending to be a police investigator. This is a serious violation, and it could result in criminal charges in addition to the threat of license revocation.
- Illegal surveillance activities. Examples include activities such as trespassing, bugging a person's home, videotaping in non-public settings, wiretapping phones, or hacking into someone's electronic devices.
- Obtaining protected information without consent or authorization. This includes financial information, credit checks, license plate checks, cell phone records, etc.
- Criminal convictions. Being convicted of certain crimes, such as illegal weapons possession, narcotics possession, breaking and entering, or any felony, automatically disqualifies you from being a PI in New York.
What the Disciplinary Process Looks Like
The Department of State issues licenses, regulates, and administers disciplinary actions for private investigators in the state. If allegations against your license surface, the disciplinary process will follow a set of steps.
License investigations typically begin with a formal complaint. Any member of the public can file a complaint against you with the DoS, but in the case of private investigators, complaints are most likely submitted by people like clients, surveillance targets, colleagues, etc.
Following the complaint, the DoS conducts an investigation to look for evidence to support the accusation. This process may involve interviews, document subpoenas, and other fact-finding efforts. You may also be asked to submit a written response to the allegations.
If the evidence against you is substantial, the state may propose a consent order to avoid the need for a hearing. A consent order is a legal agreement between you and the state in which you voluntarily accept the recommended disciplinary actions by the DoS. While not always the best resolution, a skilled attorney can often negotiate terms that allow you to keep your license or provide a path to reinstatement if disciplinary action is unavoidable.
Hearing and Determination
You may be summoned to a formal hearing at which you must show cause why you should be allowed to keep your PI license. During this meeting, you have the right to be accompanied by an attorney to present your case. At the end of the hearing, the Board makes a final decision regarding disciplinary action, which may range from a formal reprimand to fines or even complete revocation of your private investigator license.
Why You Should Hire an Experienced New York License Defense Attorney
The outcome of a license investigation can have significant consequences for your career. In license disciplinary actions, there is no guaranteed presumption of innocence, and the DoS does not need to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." They only need to be convinced that it is more than 50 percent likely that you committed the offense. This puts you at a distinct disadvantage as soon as a complaint is filed.
Having an experienced attorney by your side can level the playing field and provide you with a fighting chance to save your career. A competent attorney can provide you with sound legal advice and represent your interests at all stages of the disciplinary process. They can also negotiate either for dismissal of the complaint or for lenient penalties that allow you to keep your license--quite often avoiding the need for a hearing in the process. You ultimately have a much better chance at keeping your PI license by hiring an attorney to represent you than you would by facing the allegations alone.
You have invested too much into your career as a licensed New York private investigator to have it derailed by an unfair allegation of misconduct. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have the knowledge and experience necessary to protect your license and career. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or fill out their online form to schedule a consultation.