16 August 2013

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Fact Or Fiction - Popular Culture Myths About Private Investigators

The private investigator or “private eye” is a quintessential character in fiction and there have been many famous private investigators in films, novels and television services. From Sherlock Holmes to Thomas Magnum, private investigators in fiction lead interesting lives which makes for great stories filled with mystery, intrigue and surprises. However, is the private eye that we are familiar with in popular culture a realistic portrayal of what this job is actually like? Does a real private investigator sit in a dark and smoky office drinking a whisky on the rocks and leaning back with his feet on the desk? Does he always wear a dark trench coat and a cap, carrying a magnifying glass wherever he goes? Or what about the modern archetype of the charming clever young private investigator who has all of the coolest electronic equipment, from microphone bugs to hacking software? Or perhaps the cynical and rough-around-the-edges ex-cop who knows all the right people in all the wrong places? [...]


The private investigator or “private eye” is a quintessential character in fiction and there have been many famous private investigators in films, novels and television services. From Sherlock Holmes to Thomas Magnum, private investigators in fiction lead interesting lives which makes for great stories filled with mystery, intrigue and surprises.

However, is the private eye that we are familiar with in popular culture a realistic portrayal of what this job is actually like? Does a real private investigator sit in a dark and smoky office drinking a whisky on the rocks and leaning back with his feet on the desk? Does he always wear a dark trench coat and a cap, carrying a magnifying glass wherever he goes? Or what about the modern archetype of the charming clever young private investigator who has all of the coolest electronic equipment, from microphone bugs to hacking software? Or perhaps the cynical and rough-around-the-edges ex-cop who knows all the right people in all the wrong places?

The truth is that the types of detectives and private investigators that we see in film, novels and television are exaggerations. A real life private investigator usually doesn’t resemble these fictional characters in very many ways.

Law Abiding Citizens – Not Rogues and Rebels
Rather than meeting up in secret offices or in dark alley-ways under the dark of night, most private investigators will meet their clients in coffee shops or at their professional, well-lit offices in the city. Also, unlike some of the on-screen detectives, your actual private investigator will not break the law to obtain information. A fictional private investigator might break into a home, get into a fight or threaten people to get the information they need, but if a real private investigator did this they would certainly lose their license.

It is unlikely that there will be a high speed car chase or any shady underworld dealings involved in your inspection proceedings. Instead, your private investigator will find the information that you need through professional and legal methods. They will not need to hack into someone’s computer or add a wiretap to their phone to find out the information they need, as they will have access to a huge range of information due to their connections and knowledge.

Just the Fact, Please
Contrary to what you see on the silver screen, the goal of the private investigator is not to “catch the bad guy” but rather to simply discover the truth and the bare facts about the case. Their job is to make sure that all of the accurate facts are out on the table and that no one is hiding anything or being misleading.

The private investigator cannot prove the innocence of anyone or point blame and if the report that they submit is found out to be biased in any way it will not be accepted by the court as a testimony. If this were to happen, the private investigator would lose all credibility and would likely lose their job.

Getting Results the Realistic Way
When it comes down to it, the life of a real private investigator is much less exciting than the thrilling life of many of the private eyes in film and television. However, this is a good thing. Drama, scandal and intrigue are interesting to watch when you want a little entertainment, but it is not something that you want a lot of in your life.

The mark of a good private investigator is someone who can prevent scandal, drama and hassle in your life by finding out the right information, whether in a divorce, a business conflict or any other situation.


About Today's Contributor:
Aimee Coppock is a freelance writer and blogger. She has always been fascinated by private investigations and how they work in the real world of justice. 


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