A private investigator (PI) and private detectives are terms that are often used together, and people confuse them by believing that both of them have the same meaning. The truth is that both of these terms have different meanings and should not be mixed with each other. The basic distinction between the two is the specification of their duties.

We would now focus in-depth on the minor differences between a private investigator and private detective.

The differences

One of the basic differences between the two terms in consideration is that unlike private detectives, private investigators are involved with citizens and not the police or any other government organization. The foremost aim of a PI is to find the reason behind the case, and then once they have found the required details, they forward the case to an attorney who would then present the case in the court. The fact stated earlier that PI’s do not work with government officials does not include insurance companies. Most of the private investigators handle cases of insurance companies where they are hired to do background checks on the shortlisted candidates.

On the other hand, private detectives are hired by the government to carry out specific investigations. They work in conjunction with the government bodies dealing with criminal matters. These detectives are not much likely to get involved in civil matters. In summary, their main aim is to help in solving such criminal cases that are being a burden on the government agencies. Detectives focus on crimes that are committed with the eventual outcome of prosecuting those who have committed the crime. Investigators also investigate such cases, but their focus mainly lies in civil cases.

Besides the factors mentioned above, another important difference between private investigators and detectives is that the latter is bound by the same standards as a police officer. This means that are bound to follow the procedure that is laid down for investigations for e.g., not to search without a warrant, to take care while investigating, cannot take confessions by the force of torture, etc. Private investigators are not forced to follow the rules set forth by the government agencies. But, on the same note, they are also not allowed to take any such action that requires government notice or court order, for example, a search warrant or an arrest warrant.


Considering the information mentioned above, it is clear that both private investigators and detectives have different duties to perform, and each plays a vital role in the justice system. When it comes to domestic cases like those of spouse infidelity or child custody, the best option to choose is that of consulting or appointing an investigator. Whereas, for cases like those of murder to theft or any other criminal case, the case needs to be dealt with by a professional detective. They work on cases practicing all the rules set forth and complying with their work with them.…