FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Here is a list of the questions that our clients often have. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us.

Are GPS trackers legal in Iowa?
Yes, they are legal for Iowa private investigators (PI) to use as long as it is for a legal and legitimate use. GPS trackers are unlawful and illegal to use by anyone if they are for the intent to stalk, intimidate, harm, annoy or alarm another person without a legitimate purpose. When PI’s use GPS trackers it is generally used to more easily follow the person without being noticed.

What can I expect when I first contact a Private Investigator?
First and foremost all communication between the client and PI is confidential. The client needs to explain what they would like done and the PI can then inform the client if they are able to perform that kind of work and their availability. If the PI can’t provide the services you are asking they may be able to provide you with a referral or provide you with information that you can use without actually hiring a PI. There are particular types of cases in which it is nice to have a conversation with their attorney, if they have one, to make sure everyone is on the same page as to what the objectives of the case are. If I am unable to work the case and can’t readily refer another PI, I usually refer the client to contact the Iowa Association of Private Investigators website to locate another PI who may be able to help them. If I am able to help the client then the next course of action is to obtain as much information as possible regarding the case and parties involved that is going to help me be more successful and efficient. I also ask for a retainer which is up front money the client gives to the PI to start the case. I inform my clients that if the case ends with money not used then it gets returned to the client. If the retainer is used up and the client wants additional time put into the case then an additional retainer may be asked for. Call me for a free consultation.

Will I receive a report and an invoice for the work done?
If a client wants a report and an invoice the PI is obligated by state law to provide them a copy. There are some circumstances where a client doesn’t want a report and that is fine.

Do you take surveillance video and how do I receive that at the end of the case?
Yes, I take video on my surveillances if that is what the client needs or wants. Video often tells the story better than a report does as to who someone is meeting or doing. Make note that video is hard to obtain in some instances and is also difficult or impossible to see if taken at night. I place the surveillance video on a DVD and provide it to my client.

Can you testify in court if I need you to?
Yes, I testify in court when needed. I do charge a minimum of 2 hours plus mileage to appear to testify whether I testify or not.

How do I know if you have the experience to help me in my case?
You need to ask the PI what type of experience he has. How many years has he been working as a PI. The PI should be able to listen to your story and what you want done and in turn tell you what he can do for you to accomplish your goals. Tell you what he believes your objectives are. Ask pertinent questions. You should be able to get a good feel as to how competent the PI may work for you based on how well he listens and gives you feedback. A PI makes the client understand what their capabilities are, what they can do legally, what is possible and not possible so they have reasonable expectations of what the outcome may be.

Are private investigators licensed in Iowa?
Yes, in order to conduct investigations a person needs to be licensed, insured and bonded in the state of Iowa. You should always ask the PI you contact if they are licensed and if they are what their license number is. Mine is #590. If they are not licensed then all the work they do for you could possibly be thrown out if it goes to court.

Are results guaranteed?
Nothing is guaranteed by any PI. A PI tries his/her hardest to get the job done but sometimes there are obstacles that get in the way or not enough money is put into the case to find the information needed. My success rate is very high but I can say that the outcome was not always the desired outcome by the client.

What hours should I call a private investigator?
Most PI’s will answer calls or emails during regular business hours (M-F, 8AM – 5 PM). There are other PI’s such as myself that will answer the business phone any hour of the day or night and on weekends if the phone is next to me.

Do private investigators work evenings and weekends?
I would say most PI’s work about anytime day or night or weekends. I’ve heard some PI’s will charge more if they have to work nights or weekends. I will work every day of the week morning or night and will even work some holidays (Valentine’s Day and July Fourth are big days that I have worked in the past). I also charge the same price no matter when I work.

How do I pay the private investigator?
I accept check, money order, cash or credit card (with a 4% fee), and expect a retainer from individual clients prior to starting a case. The retainer is different for just about everyone. It is determined on the agreed amount of time the client wants to put into the case and is mutually agreed upon between the client and PI.

What geographical location can you perform investigations?
I am licensed in the state of Iowa and have conducted jobs throughout the state. I have clients all across the United States and have conducted background checks and located people all across the United States as well as in other countries.

Can I do the investigations myself?
Unfortunately, some people try to do their own investigations. Some people may not understand that it takes many years of experience and practical application to become a proficient investigator. It is also legal for a licensed agency to conduct investigations but a regular person may be breaking the law if they try to be their own investigator and any information they obtain might not only be useless but can result in it being used against them. Certain states have stalking laws that can result in criminal charges if you perform your own case.

If you try to be your own investigator you may compromise your investigation making it more difficult and more expensive once you decide to opt for a professional agency to take it on. It is better to invest the money with a reputable agency that specializes in matrimonial/domestic cases and have it done right the first time. In most cases judges will dismiss any evidence that is provided by you, a friend or someone directly related to you. The judge will hold a lot more weight to evidence that is gathered by a non-biased, experienced, licensed private investigator.

My attorney says I don't need an investigator. Should I hire one anyway?
There are times when you don't need the services of a private investigator. However, if you suspect your partner is cheating you need evidence to prove it. Attorneys are not investigators and do not gather evidence. They simply present the evidence that you collect in court. When one party of a civil domestic suit has evidence collected by an unbiased licensed private investigator it removes the "he said" "she said" out of the court room. This generally will make an out of court settlement more likely and save you a considerable amount of time and money. We would never conduct an investigation that we know would not be beneficial to your case. If you need help in determining if our services will benefit you, a consultation is the best way to find out.

Contact Us

Marlin’s Special Investigations
PO Box 11183
Cedar Rapids, IA
52410-1183
Office: 319-373-5025
Toll Free: 866-373-5440
Email: jmarlin@marlinsspecialinvestigations.com
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Specializing in service to the following cities:
Cedar Rapids • Dubuque • Iowa City • Coralville • Davenport • Des Moines • Burlington • Fort Madison • Keokuk • Ottumwa • Ames • North Liberty • Charles City • Mason City • Manchester • Maquoketa • Clinton • Anamosa • Bettendorf • Muscatine • Mount Pleasant • Independence • Decorah • Urbandale • Fairfield • Oskaloosa • Marshalltown • Waterloo • Cedar Falls • Council Bluffs • Sioux City • Fort Dodge • West Branch • Eastern Iowa and the surrounding communities