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View Full Version : Can a convicted felon become a private investigator?



Melissa D. Erwin
11-25-2002, 03:10 PM
Hi, I am new to this site...I am interested in becoming a PI and eventually working in forensics for the police. I have a few questions though. I am a 25 year old female. I lived in Florida before relocating to Cali. When I was 18, I was charged with Grand Theft...3rd degree felony. I was young and dumb!!! Also, when I was 16, I had a fake i.d made...I only used it to get into clubs. In 1999, I was stopped for a routine stop and a cop found it in my glove compartment, and I was charged with having a fake id- 3rd degree felony. So, my question is this....can I still quailfy to get my PI lisc.? I am in school now to get my bachelors in Chemistry/ Criminal Justice. I know that the police department doesn't even hire anyone with felonies, but is that how is works for PI's? I would greatly appreciate any comments.
Thanks so much,
Melissa

Kimberly Lackey
11-25-2002, 06:42 PM
Here is a quote from Legal Affairs.

"Having a prior felony does not keep anyone from becoming a private investigator in any state where there are exemptions to licensing requirements.

In all states, the statutes allow for unregulated private investigators, as opposed to regulated private investigators. Unregulated private investigators may practice private investigations without having a PI license. Look for your state's licensing topic in the forum for PI Licensing, and then review the "exemptions" that are allowed.

In all states, there is an appeals process that very few applicants know about. If a standard application is rejected, then a careful review of the rejected application, along with additional information, can lead to a felon being granted a PI License. Most boards forgive past felonies if the applicant has a proven record of rehabilitation, which includes the applicant’s recent work history and other community and local references. The board will also take into account how long ago the felony was recorded, and what the applicant has been doing with their lifestyle since.

Remember, the director of the licensing board is most often appointed by the governor. Another approach is to seek a pardon from the governor. The pardon application can be requested.

In all, when accounting for all unregulated and regulated private investigations - approximately 20% have felony records. Private investigators who have a felony typically use their past experience as a personal motivation to better serve the public than not. One very famous private investigator is G. Gordon Liddy, the convicted who served four years in a federal prison for breaking into the Watergate Hotel under orders from President Nixon. Upon his release, he became a private investigator and started a PI School in Florida."

Cynthia Ford
10-24-2003, 10:43 AM
Having a prior felony does not keep anyone from becoming a private investigator in any state where there are exemptions to licensing requirements.

In all states, the statutes allow for unregulated private investigators, as opposed to regulated private investigators. Unregulated private investigators may practice private investigations without having a PI license. Look for your state's licensing topic in the forum for PI Licensing, and then review the "exemptions" that are allowed.

In all states, there is an appeals process that very few applicants know about. If a standard application is rejected, then a careful review of the rejected application, along with additional information, can lead to a felon being granted a PI License. Most boards forgive past felonies if the applicant has a proven record of rehabilitation, which includes the applicant’s recent work history and other community and local references. The board will also take into account how long ago the felony was recorded, and what the applicant has been doing with their lifestyle since.

Remember, the director of the licensing board is most often appointed by the governor. Another approach is to seek a pardon from the governor. The pardon application can be requested.

In all, when accounting for all unregulated and regulated private investigations - approximately 20% have felony records. Private investigators who have a felony typically use their past experience as a personal motivation to better serve the public than not. One very famous private investigator is G. Gordon Liddy, the convicted who served four years in a federal prison for breaking into the Watergate Hotel under orders from President Nixon. Upon his release, he became a private investigator and started a PI School in Florida.
Yes, if a license is what the applicant is after, the appeals process would help. And an attorney would be best to have the applicent represented at the hearing.

But the most thorough answer will be to print off the complete state statute and read the procedures for felons to apply for a license. The licensing board is required not to misinterpret the statutes. I would speak to the Director of Licensing, who is typically appointed under the governor. The director would sit on the appeals board for any application that would be rejected for felonies.

Peter Martin
01-29-2004, 05:57 PM
You will want to check the licensing statute in your state. An arrest and "charges" for a felony which were later dismissed is NOT a felony "conviction" which might keep you from a license.

Likewise if your felony charges were dismissed and you entered a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor--that also will probably not keep you from getting a PI License. Again check your state's licensing statute.

Basically, an arrest is NOT a conviction. Charges are NOT a conviction.

Your state's licensing statute also will indicate what, if any, misdeanor conviction will prevent you from getting a license.

If in doubt, get an attorney to help and advise!

Pete

Shannon Marble
04-24-2004, 07:51 PM
I want to congratulate you on straightening your life out and pursuing you dream. I wish you all the luck in the world.

Mark Dehe
06-19-2004, 08:47 PM
Great question. I was also curious about that for myself. While I have never been arrested, I did have a situation arise about six years ago that was investigated and cleared of. I'm just curious if the licensing process is subjective enough that even though charges were never filed, someone might look at it and say, "we'd better not take the chance with this one".

Bernice Johnson 1 -
12-23-2004, 12:16 PM
I'm curious if there was a felony in New Mexico 18 years ago, if I can still get licensed in Colorado?

Bernice Johnson 1 -
12-23-2004, 12:17 PM
It was aggravated battery. Ex-husband and ex-father-in-law jumped my brother and I jumped on the ex-father-in-law and he fell and broke his leg. Two months later he died of a blood clot that dislodged from his leg and we were charge with open count of murder. Eventually I was convicted of aggravated battery.

Donna Reagan
12-27-2004, 11:09 AM
I'm curious if there was a felony in New Mexico 18 years ago, if I can still get licensed in Colorado?Colorado has no state PI Licensing. You are free to start your own agency. :)

You may also wish to read the following Colorado PI Office Package Forum:

http://www.ipiu.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=248

Brad Foster
02-17-2017, 01:01 PM
25% of all private investigators have a felony conviction and are still able to work. For personal one on one help, call the IPIU office at 406-534-0251