The Complete Guide to Laws Governing PI Work: From Audio Recording Consent to Concealed Weapons and Open Carry

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For a lot of people, including many potential clients, the appeal of private investigators is the idea that they somehow operate outside the constraints of the law. They think cops and detectives are all snarled up in constitutional restraints and department policy and that PIs can go to almost any length to crack cases where the police have their hands tied.

The reality is more complicated. It’s true that private investigators are not bound by some of the restrictions that courts and legislators have placed on law enforcement, but PIs don’t get any of the special powers that cops get, either. In most states, a PI can’t go any further than your average Joe when it comes to surveillance activities and digging up dirt.

Everyday civilians don’t know where those limits are, but every PI worth their salt has to know exactly where the line is drawn. In states where PIs need a license, questions about those lines are basically the whole test.

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Laws vary from state to state and you’ll have to learn about and live with the laws that are on the books wherever you’ll be working cases. But there are some rules you’ll find across the board, and you’d better learn to stick with them to avoid a lawsuit or even jail time.

What you can’t do is a lot longer list than what you can.

Mostly, though, it boils down to knowing the law enough to avoid breaking it. And half the fun of this business is figuring out how to get the job done by being creative instead of being obvious. Are you going to walk away from that kind of challenge?

Get a PI License and Understand Its Limitations

Right: If your state offers PI licenses, one thing you better do is get one, pronto. Not only will that little card get you out of trouble when someone calls the cops on you while you’re in your car for hours on a stakeout (and you will encounter the cops on a stakeout, sooner or later), but jumping through the hoops to get it will teach you things you need to know to keep out of trouble in the first place.

Wrong: Don’t count on your license from one state to work in another; some states have reciprocal agreements and others allow investigations that originated in the state you were licensed in to spill over into their territory. Still, you better be sure what the terms are before you cross the state line. And don’t count on that little card to get you out of trouble if you’re on the wrong side of the law—all it means to a cop is that you should have known better.

Dig up Dirt From the Comfort of Your Office

Right: One thing that absolutely floors just about everybody who gets into this line of work is just how much personal information there is floating around out there for anyone to look at. If you’ve never done a Google search on your own name or email address, go ahead and give it a try. Unless you’re John Smith, or live like a monk, you’re going be surprised at what turns up.

Ninety percent of the footwork of investigations PIs take on today happens on the Internet. Surfing Facebook is the new form of pounding the pavement to chat with locals and neighbors. People post the darnedest things about themselves, their friends, their family. Maybe it just seemed funny when Aunt Sally posted that video of Cousin Bobby face-planting on the ski slope, but when Bobby tries to file a fraudulent workers comp claim for his sore neck, nobody is going to be laughing.

Beyond what’s on the open Internet, there are hundreds of partially private data sources that PIs can use to gather personal and business information.

  • LexisNexis – The world’s largest electronic database of legal and public records information, this is one-stop shopping for a wide variety of data. LexisNexis takes your $175-a-month access fee and uses it to consolidate thousands of sources of public records – from legal decisions to property records – all in a single searchable format.
  • City and County Recorders – Most legal transactions regarding property, births, deaths, and other important events are officially recorded by some local government agency. Those records may not always be online, but they are always a matter of public record. For a nominal fee, you can search and retrieve all the information. Professional licenses and driving records may also be available from the state.
  • Business information – Businesses have fewer privacy rights than individuals, and the secretary of state’s office can provide information about ownership, addresses, complaints, and business activity that are all valuable to PIs.

Wrong: You can’t break into social media accounts or access credit reports without the permission of the target, even if you have obtained their social security number or account information by legal means. And don’t even think about going through someone’s glove box or desk drawers!

Lie Through Your Teeth, Just Don’t Impersonate a Cop

Right: It isn’t usually illegal to lie to get someone to talk to you. Tell the neighbors you’re a pest exterminator, an environmental surveyor, an old buddy… your faith in human nature will be affirmed when they trust you and start blabbing.

Pretending to be someone you aren’t is the oldest trick in the book and one that every PI has to master. Being charming and likable and surfing conversations on a few white lies can turn up information that no amount of digging through public records will ever reveal.

Wrong: What you can’t do is pretend to be official law enforcement or a public official—nothing that would legally compel someone to talk to you. And you can’t impersonate someone to obtain their financial or phone records from a service provider… as Hewlett-Packard and a handful of PIs found out in 2005, to their great regret.

HP’s chairwoman and corporate counsel hired private investigators to look into leaks to journalists that they suspected were coming from members of the company’s board. To trace the contacts, the PIs contacted the cell phone providers pretending to be those individuals in order to obtain call records. This technique, known as pretexting, was a violation of California state law, and the investigators and two HP employees were charged with the crimes. One of the investigators, who had used illegally obtained Social Security numbers as part of the charade, was charged and pled guilty in federal court.

Stake Out an Area, Just Don’t Trespass and Loiter

Right: As long as you’re on public property and not breaking any loitering laws (in some states, PIs may be exempt from these types of ordinances—one of your few superpowers) you can sit around on a surveillance job as long as strong coffee can keep you going.

And in most states, the venerable practice of the trash hit is legal. If your target has pitched evidence in the trash bin and put it out on the curb, that means they don’t care about it anymore… maybe you do!

Wrong: You are not allowed to trespass on private property, and in some states, if your target notices you and tells you to stop watching, you have to call it off.

And you are sure not allowed to break in to homes or cars to check for evidence… even if they’re unlocked, that’s still burglary.

Eavesdropping is Okay, Wiretapping Isn’t

Right: If you want to slide yourself into the booth next to the cheating husband you’re tailing and his mistress at the local diner to see what you can learn, that’s legal. You can sit and listen to their sweet talk for as long as you can stand it, and even take the details back to the wife with the pictures to make her case.

Wrong: But you better think twice before you turn on your digital recorder. Laws vary by state, but in most, it’s illegal to record conversations without at least one party knowing they are being recorded. In some states, both parties must be notified, which also means you can’t wear a wire and hope to trip someone up on tape.

That extends in a big way to intercepting phone conversations or digital exchanges of information, like email or text messages. You’ll do federal time for pulling a stunt like that.

Take Pictures Without Consent, Just Not Through Someone’s Bedroom Window

Right: They say one is worth a thousand words, and that’s true when it comes to showing the insurance company that your surveillance target who claims he can’t walk is out shooting hoops on his day off.

In general, anyone out in public where they can be seen by a passerby has no expectation of privacy and you can shoot them like a model on a runway if you want.

Wrong: The second that person is behind closed doors, in their backyard, or anywhere else they couldn’t reasonably expect to be observed, though, you’d best back off—even if you can see them from public property.

That picture stops being worth a thousand words and starts being worth six years in the state pen and fines up to ten grand (depending on the jurisdiction) if you are violating privacy laws.

This includes planting fixed cameras in private places or using drones to fly overhead.

There’s No Cheap Tricks When It Comes to Tailing Your Subject

Right: There’s no law against driving the same direction as someone else. Maybe you’re on your way to the same place they are going… wherever that is. As long as you comply with traffic laws (and state anti-harassment statutes), you can follow anyone wherever you like.

Wrong: You are not generally permitted to do things the easy way by placing a GPS tracking device on their vehicle. In some cases, usually involving domestic or corporate cases, another vehicle owner might give you permission to place a tracker, or to make use of phone-based GPS tracking.

Be a PI, Don’t Try to Be the Police

Wrong: Investigators usually just investigate. It’s very rare to become involved in actual law enforcement, and private investigators have no special powers of arrest or detention. Put a guy in cuffs and you’d better be sure of yourself, because you could be violating laws against false imprisonment.

Right: But you do have, in most states, the same rights as any private citizen to make an arrest in cases where you have reasonable suspicion to believe certain classes of crimes have occurred—usually, violent felonies or misdemeanor property crimes that you have personally witnessed.

Although this is legal, it’s not desirable, and you’re almost always better off calling in the cops to clean up the mess.

Carry a Sidearm, but Obey State Gun Laws

As with making arrests, most private investigators never find themselves in a position to need a weapon through the entire course of their career. And just as with powers of arrest, your first consideration if you opt to carry is to stay in compliance with the laws in your state.

These vary considerably from state to state. In states without PI licensing, your rights are the same as any other citizen. In states with PI licensing, you might find you actually have fewer rights than most citizens. In Florida, for example, a basic C class PI isn’t allowed to carry at all. If you get a special G class firearm license, you can carry on the job, but the type, number (2) and caliber of weapons allowed can be restricted:

In California, on the other hand, although you have to jump through hoops to get a PI firearm permit (passing courses on firearm safety and arrest powers) and are restricted in the type of weapon you can carry, you will be able to carry it in more situations than private citizens in the state. Concealed carry, however, is still regulated by local agencies. And you’ll have to carry a $1 million liability insurance policy, and re-qualify every four years.

Tasers and other nonlethal weapons can also be heavily restricted. This is often because state legislation has been passed that defines them as dangerous weapons without laws covering PI work being updated to match. Florida again, as the case in point, has laws that now allow private citizen to carry concealed Tasers, but the PI class G license does not give PIs the same permission. These are often gray areas with different answers given depending on who you are talking to in the licensing office.

It’s not easy always staying on the right side of the law, and not everyone does it all the time. But if it were easy, everyone would be doing PI work. The best PIs know just how to get right up to the fuzzy parts of that line to crack the case without becoming the subject of a criminal investigation themselves.

State by State Guide to Audio Recording Consent and Firearms Laws for PIs


Alabama

Alabama Private Investigation Board Administrative Code

  • Firearms: No weapons permit required for open carry unless you are carrying openly in your vehicle; then, or if you wish to carry a concealed weapon, you must obtain a Pistol Permit from your local Sheriff, if you meet these qualifications:
    • You are at least 18 years old
    • No firearms safety training requirement
  • Audio recording consent: One-party – you must have the consent of at least one party of a communication in order to use any device to record it


Alaska– no state standards regarding private investigators, but two local regulating bodies:


Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes Chapter 24-Private Investigators

  • Firearms: No special weapons permit needed for open carry nor concealed carry
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you must have consent of at least one party to legally intercept any wire or electronic communication. Consent is not required for taping a non-electronic communication, however, if the person you’re recording does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy for that communication


Arkansas

Arkansas Rules and Regulations of the Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies

  • Firearms: No special weapons permit needed for open carry; if you meet the following qualifications you may obtain a Concealed Handgun Carry License:
    • You are a U.S. citizen/permanent legal resident
    • You have been a resident of Arkansas for at least 90 days
    • You are at least 21 years old or 18 and in the military
    • You do not suffer from a physical/mental problem and have not attempted suicide
    • You pass a criminal history and background check, with fingerprints
    • You are not a substance abuser
    • Complete a State Police-approved CHCL firearms safety training class no more than six months before applying
    • Pay the license fee of $142.11 (if you are age 64 or younger; $90.61 if you are 65 or older)
    • Sign allegiance statement to the U.S. Constitution and the Arkansas Constitution
  • Audio recording consent: One-party (for in-person or electronic conversations)


California

California Private Investigator Act

  • Firearms:
    • To purchase a handgun, you must:
    • You must then obtain a Firearm Permit, which requires that you:
      • Are a U.S. citizen
      • Pass an 8 hour course in the Power to Arrest
      • Pass a 14 hour course in carrying and use of firearms
      • Submit a Firearm Permit Application with $80 application fee and fingerprint form and fees to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
      • Once approved, you may not carry any other caliber handgun that is not listed on your permit, and you or your employer must carry $1 million in insurance
    • To obtain a Carry Concealed Weapon license you must contact your local Sheriff’s office/city police department
  • Audio recording consent: All parties- all parties to a conversation (oral or electronic) must give their consent in order to be recorded


Colorado

Colorado Private Investigators Practice Act

  • Firearms: Open carry/vehicle carry is permitted statewide. Concealed carry permits may be obtained from the Sheriff’s office in the county in which you live (most counties require that you are at least 21 years old, a resident of the state and county, and have attended a firearms safety training course)
  • Audio recording consent– One party- if you are not involved in or present during an oral or electronic communication, you need the consent of at least one party in order to record it


Connecticut

Connecticut General Statute 29-153

  • Firearms: You must have a permit to carry a weapon outside of your own home or place of business. A carry permit is issued which is used for both open and concealed carry. You qualify for the Connecticut State Pistol Permit if you:
    • Are at least 21
    • Are a resident of the U.S.
    • Pass a criminal history and background check, with fingerprinting
    • Have not been in a psychiatric hospital for past year
    • Have not attempted/threatened the use of force against another
    • Pay a fee of $70
    • Complete the NRA’s Basic Pistol Course
  • Audio recording consent: All parties must consent to record a telephone conversation. Wiretapping requires one-party consent.


Delaware

Delaware Code Title 24 Chapter 13: Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies

  • Firearms: No special permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry, you must file the Application for a License to Carry a Concealed Deadly Weapon if you meet these requirements:
    • You are at least 21 years old
    • Have your application published in a newspaper within your county, ten days before filing your application – you must get an affidavit from the newspaper when this is completed
    • Be fingerprinted/background checked by the State Bureau of Identification
    • Get references from five persons who live in your county and know you well (no one that lives at your address is eligible to be a reference)
    • Complete the application and have it notarized
    • Include two passport-sized color photos of yourself
    • Include the filing fee of $65
    • File the new application and a duplicate copy at your county’s Prothonotary’s Office
    • When your application is approved you must completed an approved gun course within 90 days
  • Audio recording consent: All parties must consent to the recording of electronic or oral communications


District of Columbia

D.C. Municipal Regulations and D.C. Register Chapter 17: Private Detectives

  • Firearms: Handguns must be registered in the District of Columbia. You can only register a gun if you meet these qualifications:
    • You are at least 21 years old
    • You pass a criminal history check
    • You have not been acquitted of any crime by reason of insanity or chronic alcoholism in the last five years
    • You have not been committed to a mental institution in last five years
    • You do not have a history of violent behavior
    • You have not had a civil protection order filed against you
    • You complete an Online Firearms Safety Training Course
    • You file an Application for Firearms Registration Certificate with a $13 fee
    • You must register for a Concealed Carry Pistol License if you meet these requirements:
      • You completed 16 hours of firearms training, including range and self-defense
      • You must explain your need for a Concealed Carry Pistol License
      • Submit the Concealed Carry Pistol License Application to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
    • Audio recording consent: One party must consent before a conversation/communication may be recorded


Florida

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences Private Investigator Handbook

  • Firearms: You are not permitted to carry more than two firearms on you at all times. For open or concealed carry as a private investigator, you must apply for a Class G Statewide Firearm License and meet these qualifications:
    • You are at least 21 years old
    • You are a U.S. citizen and current Florida resident
    • You pass a criminal history check and fingerprinting
    • You have completed 28 hours of range and classroom training in the year preceding application
    • You complete the Application for Class “G” Statewide Firearm License and submit it with $154 in fees
  • Audio recording consent: All parties must consent to recording of electronic, wire or oral communication.


Georgia

Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies Department 509

  • Firearms:
    • You need a Firearms License for open carry, and must meet these requirements:
      • You are 21 years or older
      • You are a Georgia resident
      • You pass a criminal history /background check and fingerprinting
      • You pay a $75 fee plus any extra county fees
      • You appear in person at your local Probate Court with your fingerprints, a self-addressed stamped envelope and your driver’s license
    • You need a Concealed Carry Permit for concealed carry, which is also issued by the county in which you live. Ask for an application at your local Probate Court
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Hawaii

Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 16 Chapter 97- Private Detectives and Guards

  • Firearms: As a private investigator in Hawaii, you are prohibited from carrying firearms unless you have permission in writing from your local Chief of Police
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Idaho- no state regulation of private investigators

  • Firearms: No state permit is required to purchase or a handgun either openly or concealed, provided you are at least 21 years old and a state resident.
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Illinois

Illinois Code Chapter 225 ILCS 447/Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor and Locksmith Act of 2004. Article 15- Private Detectives

  • Firearms:
    • Open carry is not legal in the state. You must have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID), and may be eligible if you meet these requirements:
      • Pass a criminal history check
      • Have not been a mental patient in the past five years
      • Have not been addicted to a substance in the past year
      • Are a U.S. citizen and resident of Illinois
      • Have not failed a drug test in the past year
      • Complete the FOID application online and submit necessary fees
    • You must have a Concealed Carry License to carry a concealed weapon and may apply if you:
      • Are 21 years or older
      • Have a valid FOID
      • Pass a criminal history check
      • Do not have two or more motor vehicle violations while driving under the influence of a substance in the past five years
      • Have not been in drug/alcohol treatment within the past five years
      • Complete the Concealed Carry License application online and submit required fees
    • Audio recording consent: All parties to an oral, electronic or telephone communication must consent before it can be recorded. However, in public places where a conversation is not expected to be private, recording is permitted.


Indiana

Indiana Private Investigator and Security Guard Licensing Board Laws and Regulations

  • Firearms: Open or concealed carry requires a License to Carry a Handgun:
    • Submit application online
    • Get fingerprinted and complete local law enforcement agency processing within 90 days
    • Your license will be mailed to you if approved
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Iowa

Iowa Department of Public Safety Chapter 80A: Private Investigative Agencies and Security Agents

  • Firearms: Open or concealed carry requires a Permit to Carry Weapons, which you may obtain if you:
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Kansas

Kansas Private Detective Licensing K.S.A. 75-7b01 et seq.

  • Firearms: No license is required for open or concealed carry; however it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm if you are under age 21 unless you are at your residence or place of business
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Kentucky

Kentucky Board Licensure for Private Investigators Laws and Regulations Booklet

  • Firearms: Firearms need not be registered and no permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry, you must:
    • Be 21 years or older
    • Be a U.S. citizen and Kentucky resident
    • Pass a criminal history/background check
    • Not be a drug user or addict
    • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces
    • Not have been committed as an alcoholic in the past three years
    • Not owe child support
    • Complete firearms safety training course
    • Complete an application form at your local sheriff’s office and pay $60 fee
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Louisiana

Louisiana Private Investigators Law (La. R.S. 37:3500-3525)

  • Firearms: No permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry, you must:
    • Complete the Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit Application along with the proper fees (listed on application, vary in terms of length of the permit)
    • Have continuously resided in Louisiana for the past 15 years or pay an additional $50 fee
    • Meet the state’s firearms training requirements
    • Pass a criminal history/background check and fingerprinting
    • Submit a medical summary form from a physician if you list any medical condition on your application
  • Audio recording consent: One partyLouisiana’s Electric Surveillance Act does not allow oral or telephone communications to be recorded electronically unless you have the consent of at least one party


Maine

State of Maine Laws Referring to Professional Investigators

  • Firearms: No permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry, you must:
    • Complete the Concealed Handgun Permit Application if you live in one of these municipalities (issued by State Police) (if you live in another municipality, go to your local sheriff’s office for application)
    • Be at least 18 years old
    • Pass a criminal history/background/fingerprinting process
    • Complete a handgun safety course within five years of application
  • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Maryland

2010 Maryland Code Business Occupations and Professions Title 13- Private Detectives

  • Firearms:
    • Permit to purchase- You must complete MSP77R Application and Affidavit in order to purchase a registered firearm, through the state’s Licensing Portal, and pay a $10 fee
    • Handgun Qualification License- you must also obtain this license before purchasing a firearm, and apply online. Fingerprinting, a complete criminal history and background check are required, as is completion of a Firearms Safety Training Course within the last three years. Fees are $50, not including fingerprinting
    • To carry either open or concealed you must have a Handgun Wear and Carry Permit. Complete the application if you meet these qualifications:
      • You are 18 years or older
      • You pass a criminal history check
      • You are not a drug addict/alcoholic
      • You have good and substantial reason to wear, carry or transport a handgun
      • You have completed a Maryland State Police-approved firearms training course within the past two years
    • Audio recording consent: All partiesMaryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act says that you must have the consent of all parties to record and use the contents of any oral, wire or electronic communication


Massachusetts

Massachusetts General Laws Part I Title XX Chapter 147 Section 22

  • Firearms:
    • Your local police department issues a Firearms License, in one of the two forms:
      • Firearms Identification Card- allows you to purchase and possess a firearm if:
        • You are 18 years or older
        • You have completed an approved firearms safety course
        • You are a U.S. citizen living in Massachusetts
      • License to Carry – allows you to purchase and possess a firearm and to carry it open or concealed if:
        • You are 21 years or older
        • You completed an approved firearms safety course
        • You are a U.S. citizen living in Massachusetts
      • Audio recording consent: All parties to a conversation must consent to having it recorded; however telephone equipment and other normal office intercommunications systems may be used to record conversations without consent


Michigan

Michigan Professional Investigator Licensure Act

  • Firearms: Open carry is legal statewide; carrying in a vehicle is considered Concealed Carry and requires a Concealed Pistol License:
    • Complete the Concealed Pistol Application
    • Complete a pistol safety training course and obtain certificate
    • Pay $100 application and licensing fee when you file with county clerk
    • Have your fingerprints taken, criminal history and background check will be done
  • Audio recording consent: One-party consent is needed if a third party is recording the conversation of others; however a person involved in a communication has the right to record it without the other’s knowledge


Minnesota

Minnesota Administrative Rules Chapter 7506, Private Detectives and Protective Agents

  • Firearms: under state law, all Private Detectives must complete firearms safety training prior to licensure.
    • Permit to Purchase- this is required before you may buy a handgun, which you must be at least 21 years old to do:
    • Permit to Carry- this is necessary for both open and concealed carry:
      • Complete the Permit to Carry a Pistol Application and submit it to your local police chief/county sheriff.
      • You must have completed a handgun safety training course within a year of filing the application
    • Audio recording consent: One party must consent in order to record an electronic, wire or oral communication


Mississippi- no state regulations regarding private investigators

  • Firearms: No permit is required for open or concealed carry, nor to purchase a handgun.
  • Audio recording consent: One-party- a person may record a communication in which they are involved or if one of the parties to the communication has given consent


Missouri

Missouri Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners Rules & Statutes

  • Firearms: No permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry, no permit is required as long as you are at least 19 years old (18 if in military) and not prohibited by law.
  • Audio recording consent: One party- – a person may record a communication in which they are involved or if one of the parties to the communication has given consent


Montana

Montana Administrative Rules Chapter 24.182 Board of Private Security

  • Firearms: No permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry:
    • You must be at least 18 years old
    • Complete an application at your local sheriff’s office, and pay the fee (usually $60)
    • Your permit will be issued within 60 days
  • Audio recording consent: All parties- all parties involved in an oral or electronic communication must give consent in order for it to be recorded; except for public officers or employees in which recording of conversations takes place in the performance of official duties, including individuals who speak at public meetings


Nebraska

Nebraska Private Detective Statutes

  • Firearms: No permit necessary for open carry. For concealed carry:
    • Complete an approved handgun training/safety course
    • Complete a Concealed Handgun Permit Application
    • Submit proof of training and the application to your local Nebraska State Patrol Headquarters
    • Provide proof that you meet the vision requirements (either through showing your Nebraska driver’s license or having a current vision statement completed by a Nebraska ophthalmologist or optometrist
    • Provide proof of identification and citizenship
    • Provide proof of Nebraska address
    • Provide your fingerprints for a complete criminal history/background check
    • Pay the fee of $100 (does not include fingerprint fees)
  • Audio recording consent: One party- You may record any conversation in which you are a party or any conversation in which you have the consent of one party. You may also record electronic communications that are accessible to the public.


Nevada

Nevada Administrative Code Chapter 648- Private Investigators, Private Patrol Officers, Polygraphic Examiners, Process Servers, Repossessors and Dog Handlers

  • Firearms: No permit necessary for open carry. For concealed carry:
    • You must be 21 years or older
    • You must pass a criminal history check
    • You must have passed a handgun safety course
    • Contact your local sheriff’s office for a Nevada Concealed Firearm Permit application (If you live in Clark County, this application is only issued by the Las Vegas Metro Police Department)
    • Submit completed application and set of ten-print fingerprint cards, color photo of yourself and fees to the sheriff’s office/police department (about $100)
  • Audio recording consent: Mixed consent- you cannot record a private oral conversation without the consent of at least one party; you cannot record a telephone conversation without the consent of all of the parties involved


New Hampshire

New Hampshire Department of Safety Administrative Rules Chapter Saf-C 2200

  • Firearms: No permit required for open or concealed carry.
  • Audio recording consent: All parties- You must have the consent of all parties to an electronic or in-person conversation in order to record it


New Jersey

New Jersey State Police Private Detective Rules & Regulations

  • Firearms: No permit is required to purchase a handgun. For both open and concealed carry you need a Permit to Carry, which you qualify for by:
    • Filing the Application for Permit to Carry a Handgun, in triplicate to the Chief of Police of the municipality in which you live, or to the Superintendent of State Police
    • Include a letter of need to why you need to carry a firearm (your employer may provide this letter)
  • Audio recording consent: One party consent is needed in order to record an in-person or telephone conversation, unless the recording is being done as part of a criminal act. It is legal to record electronic communications that are accessible by the public.


New Mexico

New Mexico Administrative Code Title 16 Chapter 48- Private Law Enforcement Practitioners

  • Firearms: No permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry:
    • Get fingerprinting done electronically through 3M Cogent, pay $44 to them and $56 to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety when you submit them
    • Complete approved firearms training
    • Complete the Concealed Handgun License Application, and include:
      • Fingerprint receipt
      • two release forms
      • copy of your birth certificate
      • copy of firearms training certificate
      • copy of your New Mexico driver’s license
      • payment of $100
    • Audio recording consent: One-party consent is needed in order to record a conversation or communication


New York

New York Private Investigators, Bail Enforcement Agents, Watch, Guard or Patrol Agencies and Security Guards Licensing Law

  • Firearms: Open and concealed carry licenses are regulated by 59 licensing jurisdictions statewide. 55 of these jurisdictions issue pistol licenses through the courts, while the other four issue through the sheriff’s office or police commissioner. Check with your local jurisdiction for its policies and procedures.
  • Audio recording consent: One-party consent is required in order to record an oral or electronic communication.


North Carolina

North Carolina Administrative Code Title 14B- Public Safety- Chapter 16- Private Protective Services Board

  • Firearms: No permit required for open carry. For concealed carry:
    • Complete an application at your local sheriff’s office, and pay a fee of $80
    • You will have two sets of fingerprints taken at the sheriff’s office
    • Completed a handgun safety course and provide certificate of completion
    • Sign a release at sheriff’s office disclosing any mental health issue
  • Audio recording consent- One-party consent is required in order to record an oral or electronic communication.


North Dakota

State of North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board Title 93: Administrative Rules

  • Firearms: You need a Concealed Weapon License to openly (or concealed) carry a loaded handgun. Qualifications include:
  • Audio recording consent: One party consent is needed in order to record an in-person or telephone conversation, unless the recording is being done as part of a criminal act.


Ohio

Ohio Revised Code Title 47 Occupations-Professions Chapter 4749: Private Investigators, Security Services

  • Firearms: No permit required for open carry. To open carry in a vehicle or to conceal carry, a Concealed Carry permit is necessary:
    • You must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen and Ohio resident for past five years
    • You must pass a criminal history check
    • Complete weapons training (8 hours with at least 2 hours in-person training at a range and live-fire training)
    • Complete the Application for License to Carry a Concealed Handgun and submit in person with $67 to your local sheriff’s office
  • Audio recording consent: One party consent is needed in order to record an in-person or telephone conversation, unless the recording is being done as part of a criminal act.


Oklahoma

Oklahoma Security Guard and Private Investigator Act

  • Firearms: You need a Carry Permit for both open and concealed carry:
  • Audio recording consent: One party – Oklahoma’s Security of Communications Act says that a person must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless the person is doing so as part of a criminal act.


Oregon

Oregon Administrative Rules Department of Public Safety Standards and Trainign0 Division 61- Investigator Licensing Standards and Regulations

  • Firearms: Open and concealed carry permits are issued through the local sheriff’s office. Most require that you:
    • Complete a handgun safety training course
    • Are a U.S. citizen and Oregon resident
    • Are a resident of the county in which you are applying for the permit/license
    • Are at least 21 years old
    • Pass a criminal history background check
    • Pay all necessary fees
  • Audio recording consent: Mixed consent – One party consent is needed to record an electronic communication; all parties consent is needed to record an in-person conversation.


Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Private Detective Act of 1953

  • Firearms:
    • No permit is required for open carry EXCEPT in a vehicle and in the city of Philadelphia, where you need a Philadelphia License to Carry Firearms:
      • You must be 21 or older
      • You must be a resident of Philadelphia county
      • You must have two references (not family members)
      • You must have a valid PA driver’s license
      • You must pass fingerprinting and criminal history/background check
      • You must pay all applicable fees
    • For concealed carry statewide, and for carry in a vehicle:
      • Go to your local Sheriff’s office with your PA driver’s license, names of two references and ask for application
      • You may need to prove residency in the county for the past 90 days
      • You must pay all applicable fees
    • Audio recording consent: All parties – You must have the consent of all parties to a communication, either electronic or in-person, in order to legally record it.


Rhode Island

Rhode Island Private Detective Act

  • Firearms: A permit/license is required for open and concealed carry.
    • Pick up an application at your local sheriff’s office, complete it and have it notarized
    • Complete qualification before a certified weapons instructor and include certificate
    • Submit two photos of yourself and two forms of identification
    • Complete FBI Fingerprinting
    • Include a letter from your employer explaining why you need the permit
    • Pay all fees ($40 plus fingerprinting, except the City of Providence which is $250)
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless you are doing so as part of a criminal act. You may record any electronic/in-person communication that is common knowledge or public information, however.


South Carolina

South Carolina Code of Laws Title 40 Chapter 18- Private Security and Investigation Agencies


South Dakota- no state regulations regarding private investigators

  • Firearms: No permit required for open carry. There are three types of concealed permits:
    • Regular Permit- allows concealed carry with the state and 30 other states. Requirements:
      • You are at least 18 years old
      • You pass a criminal history check and background investigation
      • You are a citizen of U.S. and resident of S.D. and of the county in which you are applying for a permit
      • You pay a $10 application fee
    • Gold Card Permit- allows regular permit benefits plus recognition for concealed carry in one other state and purchase exemption upon approval from ATF . Requirements:
      • Same as Regular
      • Complete FBI fingerprinting background check
      • Pay $43.75 for fingerprinting and $70 for application
      • Undergo periodic background checks for continued eligibility
    • Enhanced Permit-allows regular and gold card benefits plus recognition for concealed carry in six other states. Requirements:
      • Same as Regular
      • Complete qualified handgun course
      • Complete FBI fingerprinting background check
      • Pay $100 application fee and $43.75 fingerprinting fee
      • Undergo periodic background checks for continued eligibility
    • Audio recording consent: One party consent is required in order to record an oral or electronic communication.


Tennessee

Rules of Tennessee Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission Chapter 1175-04: Rules of Professional Conduct and Standards of Practice

  • Firearms: You need a Handgun Carry Permit for both open and concealed carry:
    • You are a U.S. citizen and TN resident
    • You are at least 21 years old
    • You pass a criminal history check
    • You are not a substance abuser/user
    • You are not mentally defective
    • Complete a handgun safety course in the year prior to application
    • Pick up and process application at any Driver Services Center location
    • Pay fees of $100 for 8 year permit, $300 for lifetime
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless you are doing so as part of a criminal act. You may record any electronic/in-person communication that is common knowledge or public information, however.


Texas

State of Texas Private Security Statutes & Rules

  • Firearms: You need a License To Carry a Handgun for both open and concealed carry:
    • You must be a U.S. citizen and TX resident
    • You must be at least 21
    • You must pass a criminal history check, including child support check
    • You must not suffer from a psychiatric disorder
    • You must not have a substance abuse/dependence problem
    • You must pass official LTC training course
    • Complete the LTC Application Form and submit with necessary fees
  • Audio recording consent: One party- – you must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless you are doing so as part of a criminal act. You may record any electronic/in-person communication that is common knowledge or public information, however.


Utah

Utah Code Chapter 9: Private Investigator Regulation Act

  • Firearms: No permit required for open carry. For a concealed firearms permit:
    • You must be 21 or older
    • You must be a U.S. citizen and UT resident
    • You must pass a criminal history and background check, with fingerprinting
    • You must complete a Weapon Familiarity Certification course
    • You must submit the Application for Concealed Firearms Permit and fee of $37 (not including fingerprinting fee)
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless you are doing so as part of a criminal act. You may record any electronic/in-person communication that is common knowledge or public information, however.


Vermont

Vermont Statutes Online Title 26 Chapter 59: Private Investigative and Security Services

  • Firearms: No permit required for open or concealed carry.
  • Audio recording consent: Vermont has no statute or case law that defines the legality of audio recording consent


Virginia

Code of Virginia Title 9.1 Department 1 Article 4 Private Security Services Businesses

  • Firearms: No permit required for open or concealed carry.
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you may record a conversation (electronic or oral) to which you are a party or in which you have consent from one party.


Washington

Washington State Legislature Title 18 Chapter 18.165 RCW Private Investigators

  • Firearms: No permit is required for open carry. For concealed carry (which also applies to open carry of a loaded handgun in a vehicle):
    • Go to your local law enforcement agency for an application/procedure
    • You must be at least 21 years old
    • You must be a U.S. citizen, WA resident and resident of the local area in which you apply
    • You will be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal history/background check
    • Fees are $48 (not including fingerprinting)
  • Audio recording consent: All parties – You must have the consent of all parties to an oral or electronic communication in order to legally record it.


West Virginia

West Virginia Code Chapter 30 Article 18: Private Investigative and Security Services

  • Firearms: No permit required for open or concealed carry.
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless you are doing so as part of a criminal act.


Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Legislature Statute 440.26 Private Detectives, Investigators and Security Personnel

  • Firearms: No permit required for open carry. For concealed carry (which also applies to open carry in a vehicle):
    • You must be at least 21 years old
    • You must pass a criminal history check
    • You must be U.S. citizen and WI resident
    • You must pass firearms training
    • Complete Concealed Weapon Application
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless you are doing so as part of a criminal act. Evidence that is obtained by recording a communication is not admissible in civil cases, except if the party has been informed that the conversation is being recorded and may be used in court.


Wyoming -no state regulations regarding private investigators, but locally, must apply for Business License as Private Detective in City of Cheyenne

  • Firearms: No permit required for open carry. All legal residents of Wyoming may carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
  • Audio recording consent: One party- you must have consent from one party of an oral or electronic communication in order to record it, unless you are doing so as part of a criminal act.

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