What Are The Differences Between A Private Investigator And A Private Detective?

Many people use the terms private investigator and private detective in the same situation. On the contrary, they are different, and they also have different meanings altogether. Some states and countries consider the two terms similar. That means that they can be used in the place of the other without causing any confusion. Even though there is a line between the two professions, there is no much difference between them. The specific duties are the main aspects that make the difference between a private detective and private investigator.

Private Investigator


The term private investigator is also referred to as inquiry agent or private detective. It is a term used for a person that can be hired by a group or individual to perform the investigatory law services. In most cases, these specialists will work for lawyers in specific civil cases. According to the definition, the two do not differ at all. Nonetheless, there is still a line between them. That is why you must know every aspect that link to them and what each does in particular. So what is the difference between the professions?

The Differences

When it comes to the line between these two professions, it is mainly focused on their duties. The duty that the private investigator and detective does is different.

• Private Investigators mostly work with private citizens

This is the main difference between the two. For a private investigator, they will be specifically be involved with the private citizens. If you have a case, and you need to find the cause and the reason or people behind it, then a private investigator will be the right person to choose. The investigator will not deal with the police or any other government organization. They will specifically deal with individuals or a group, without involving the police. The main aim of the investigator will be to find the cause of the entire case. Once they have identified the cause and had enough proof, they will forward the case to an attorney, who will then present it in court. Even though they do not work with the government officials, the private investigator can work with an insurance company. Mostly, you will find some insurance company with their own private investigators. These investigators can work along with the outside private investigator to get to the bottom of the case in general.


• They deal with divorce cases

Another common duty of the private investigator is to look for proof of adultery in a divorce case. Actually, this is a common role that they are given by their clients. Many people hire them specifically for the sake of finding proof of adultery if they suspect their spouse is cheating. So if you know of someone that suspects their spouse is cheating on them, do not try to ask around, you might not get the real story. Instead, you should advise them to hire a private investigator to find the real truth. Also, the investigator is well trained to find out the proof without raising suspicion, or getting injured or harmed in the long run. Too many private investigators get a lot of money from the investigation they carry out in the divorce cases.

• They help to find missing property for the general public

Other than the divorce cases, the PI also offer their services when there is a case of missing assets. They help the general public to identify and find the missing assets. For instance, if there was a jewellery set up in a public library and it is stolen, the private investigator could be hired to carry out the investigation.

The Private Detective

As mentioned, a private detective can also be called a PI, but they have different duties.
• Private detectives work with government agencies

While the PI specifically works with private citizens, the detectives are hired by the government to carry out specific investigations. They will work with the government agencies to deal with specific criminal matters. In most cases, the detectives will not interfere with the civil matters. Their main aim is to offer their help to government agencies to tackle the criminal mysteries that are a burden to them.


Their links and association with the government officials are one reason the private detective will be considered to be a police officer. Nonetheless, their duties differ, and they will only work in ways of identifying the people behind crimes that affect the government.

For instance, if a political figure has been assassinated, the private detective will be hired to investigate the assassination and find out the person behind it. They will be given the mandate to give orders to the police when they are on the ground. Even though they work along with the government agencies, they will have more authority over the regular police. Such units like FBI, are made up of private detectives that are involved in the criminal cases that affect the nation.

They can also be hired to offer security to the public figures like the president, or any other government officials. Their services will be offered by ensuring that the officials are safe and that they are not faced with any attacks. If there is a crime planned against the official, the private detective will investigate and find out who is behind that. Other than that, they will do all that they can to ensure that the officials are protected and that they are safe enough.

Even though there is a difference in the duties that the private investigator and the private detective offer, you can find some PIs that work as private detectives. There is no much difference between them, which is why they can work as either of them. Nonetheless, to get the ideal services, you need to hire the right person that is suited for the job.

It is difficult to find a private detective investigating the proof of adultery in a divorce case. So ensure that you choose the right profession for the job that you need to be taken care of. Also, you must check that the private investigator or detective is well-trained and professional enough. This will help you get the right help that you need and also, you can feel comfortable working with them.

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