Before you hire a private investigator for any reason, it’s important to understand how much a private investigator costs. There are a couple of factors that can impact the cost of a private investigator. These are..do they charge a flat or hourly rate, the type of service, and whether they ask for a retainer. Before hiring an investigator, it is important to be knowledgeable in pricing and expectations. If you need to find a trustworthy investigator you have come to the right place. Finally we will discuss if your Private Investigator was ever really a Detective. We will help you determine what real experience he or she has. This is learned by asking what types of Schools the investigator has been to. Asking them do they have a degree in Criminal Justice? What types of cases did they work as a Police Detective. Once these questions have been answered satisfactorily then it should be safe to proceed to asking about prices.
How Does a Private Investigator Cost By The Hour or Flats Rate
Some private investigators will offer their basic services for flat fees, such as:
- Background checks
- Identifying phone numbers
- Vehicle registration searches
- Criminal record searches
- Bug sweeps
- GPS monitoring (based on the legal issues of State of Florida Check Local Laws)
Investigators charge flat fees for these types of services as they are straightforward and rarely stray from standard procedure. The investigator has likely measured the amount of time to complete these services which leads to a predetermined, flat price.
For bigger jobs such as locating persons, infidelity cases, or anything involving in-depth research or surveillance, most private investigators charge an hourly rate. Hourly prices range from $70-$100 per hour with the average being around $85 per hour. The amount of time that your investigation can last could range from 2-8 hours (or potentially more) depending on your case and needs. Some investigators will reduce this price per hour if you’re hiring them for a higher number of hours.
This cost doesn’t include additional costs such as equipment and travel fees like gas or hotel stays. Mileage expenses average around $.45 per mile. Renting a GPS tracker usually costs $50-$75 a day and often photos and videos also cost a flat fee. Challenges in the field could also potentially raise fees. If this is the case, your investigator should notify you of the changes and why they’re being implemented. Sometimes, the cost of equipment is already factored into their hourly fee so be sure to ask about any extraneous charges of which you may be unaware.
Should You Pay $85.00 Per Hour? The Answer is NO!
How much you pay for a private investigator largely depends on the type of investigation you require. Expenses typically rise the more time and resources an investigator pours into research, surveillance, and other investigative tactics. While some investigations simply require basic research from behind a computer, others require surveillance and are more prone to complications. If you are paying $85 and hour to an investigator you should ask them why they are charging so much?
Did you know that the state of Florida only pays JAC investigators $40.00 per hour to conduct court ordered investigations? These court appointed investigators are the same investigators that are charging you $85.00 per hour for the same work and some cases the work is less complicated. This is a 100% mark up solely because the industry is unregulated and simply put..they can because you don’t know any better. Try this experiment. When asking about rates with a PI ask them what they get paid for JAC cases. They are going to tell you $40.00 per hour. Then ask them why they are charging you double.
Common types of investigations and what unsuspecting clients are being charged include:
- Locating a person – $300-$600
- Infidelity surveillance – $300-$1000
- Locating birth parents or children – $100-$700
- In-depth research – $300-$600
How Much Does A Private Investigator Cost Really?
It might be tempting to hire a expensive, investigator, because you think that you are getting a far better service. Keep in mind that an investigator who is already over charging you may not have your best interest in mind. Money may be more of a motivator than actually solving your case. This business is based on honesty and helping people in their time of need, not taking advantage of them when they are desperate and don’t know any better.
An experienced investigator charging you $40.00 per hour can solve a case just as fast as an experienced investigator charging you $85.00 and hour. What are you really paying for? Ask the investigator if they are so good and can charge so much the investigation should take a considerably short amount of time based on their amazing skills. take longer to complete the same case that a professional could complete within half the time.
Don’t Get Fooled
An investigator that is going to testify in court about a niche case should have experience in that field. Things to ask the investigator is. if they were ever a “real law enforcement detective”? If they answer is no then there is a reason they were never selected to become a detective. (think about that for a moment) In most cases it is because other trained detectives, that make the selections for such elite units, did not see that this person had what is takes to be an investigator. So now you might be hiring some WANNA BE detective. While at the same time paying an exuberant amount of money. Do your do diligence! Get Proof that they were a detective in their past job!
Before you hire an investigator, consult with them about their cost and how long they expect your case to last. Often, these initial consultations are free. Also, be sure to have a detailed contract. Conclude the case with an itemized list of expenses and records of activities so the associated charges are clear. Your investigator should also inform you of any extra expenses that arise during the investigation.
While hiring a private investigator can be daunting and prices may seem to add up, a quality investigation can successfully answer your questions. Peace of mind and discovering the truth is often worth the cost of hiring a professional private investigator. Paying too much can end in disaster. The State of Florida doesn’t, insurance companies don’t, Lawyers don’t. the reason….they all have done their due diligence.