In 2004, the Michigan legislature addressed a number of issues that are frequently discussed with a Michigan Private Investigator. Surveillance for businesses, spousal surveillance or surveillance of illicit behavior are all regularly conducted by Michigan Private Detectives. As Michigan Private Investigators, we do not have any special powers that allow us to break the law, including the following:
(MCL 750.539j) Prohibits recording a visual image of undergarments, genitalia, buttocks or female breasts under circumstances in which the individual would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Effective: September 1, 2004
(MCL 750.539d) Prohibits and provides penalties for secretly observing, recording or capturing images of an unclad person or a person in his or her undergarments. Effective: September 1, 2004
(MCL 750.539k) Prohibit capturing certain personal identifying information from a financial transaction device surreptitiously. Effective: March 1, 2005
In our opinion, the above Michigan laws are appropriate and should serve as a good boundary for the private investigator involved in spousal surveillance or domestic surveillance to use when obtaining evidence of infidelity. Many potential clients will ask about the private investigator obtaining film of his/her significant other engaged in some sexual behavior as proof of their adultery. Unfortunately this is very rare to see in public and, as these laws explain, if such infidelity is being conducted in a private place, the private investigator is not allowed to film this activity.
The Michigan private investigator is frequently asked to monitor a computer, telephone or PDA to help learn about the user’s activities. MCL 750.539k addresses one small area of electronic surveillance, but it ends with the same answer: Do not monitor someone else’s computer, phone or PDA. It is not legal and the penalties are severe.