Frequently Asked Questions

What is a private investigator?

In its most basic sense, a private investigator is a truth-seeker. In the public sector, law enforcement and other government agencies perform this role when it is in the interests of the general public. But for a variety of reasons, private individuals may find that they also need an advocate for the truth. Although not often thought of in this way, private investigators are an important part of the overall justice system. In the US, private detectives trace their colorful history back to the days of the old west. Today, private investigators are trained professionals who usually have a law enforcement or security management background. At Focal Point, we feature a team of seasoned investigators and security professionals.

Who needs a private investigator?

Essentially anyone who needs help on their quest for the truth. Private investigators provide a myriad of services for private individuals and corporations including:

  • Criminal case review, often in conjunction with a defense attorney
  • Infidelity cases when someone suspects their spouse or loved one is cheating on them
  • Child custody and welfare cases
  • Security assessments of homes and businesses
  • Tracking down lost loved ones or runaway teenagers
  • Contested deaths or disputed estates
  • Employee thefts
  • Searching for hidden assets in divorce or civil cases
  • Background investigations for businesses, adoption agencies, etc.
  • Skip-tracing to track down individuals who owe money or are otherwise seeking to avoid legal responsibility
  • Polygraph services
  • Other civil or criminal cases when law enforcement is not involved

What should I expect to pay?

This is a hard question to answer since the services provided by private investigators can be so varied. Typically, you can expect to pay an hourly rate for most services as well as expenses like mileage. Hourly rates can fluctuate depending on the type of work and level of expertise required. For example, a case requiring high-tech equipment may cost more than typical surveillance services. Some cases require special expertise as do certain types of interviews, crime or accident scene reconstruction, and expert testimony. Some services may be a set fee such as polygraphs or missing persons searches. At Focal Point Investigations, we try to keep our fees reasonable and competitive.

What is the process of hiring a private investigator?

Most private investigators offer a free initial consultation to discuss the client’s needs and develop an investigative plan. During the consultation, things like fees and retainers should be disclosed so that there are no surprises. At Focal Point, the initial consultation is always free and confidential. We can conduct the consultation by phone or in person depending on the client’s wishes.

What happens after the consultation?

In SC, a private investigator is required by law to offer you a contract outlining the fees, expenses, retainer, and basic services to be performed. If you decide to hire the private investigator, you will need to sign the contract and usually pay a retainer. The amount of the retainer can vary depending on the rates and the complexity of the investigation. The retainer serves as a pre-payment and guarantee of future services. As the investigation progresses, the services rendered may exceed the amount of the retainer. In this case, the client must authorize any additional charges before the investigator can proceed with the investigation.

Are private investigators required to be licensed?

Yes, in most states. South Carolina requires all private investigators to be licensed by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and all private investigation firms must be bonded by an insurance agency. In addition, investigators must complete 12 hours of professional development training every 2 years.

What about confidentiality?

This is a valid concern. At Focal Point, we take your confidentiality and privacy very seriously and will take great pains to protect your interests. We do not even need to know who you are for the initial consultation. While no private investigation firm can 100% guarantee your confidentiality in all circumstances, we will only release information about your case when required by law such as when served with a valid subpoena, court order, or SLED audit. We like to say that we know how to keep the “private” in private investigations.

What geographical areas are covered by Focal Point Investigations?

While we are licensed to perform our services anywhere in the state of South Carolina, our area of service is concentrated in the Lowcountry region which includes Charleston, Summerville, Moncks Corner, Goose Creek, Mt. Pleasant, Beaufort, and Hilton Head.


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SLED License # PDC 3067

Focal Point Investigations is fully licensed and bonded to conduct private investigation services in South Carolina. We are available for cases anywhere in the state but specialize in the Lowcountry areas of Summerville, Charleston, North Charleston, Moncks Corner, Goose Creek, Mt. Pleasant, and Beaufort.

Contact Us Today

Go to our Contact Page and reach out to Focal Point Investigations today for a free and confidential consultation. Our team of experienced and seasoned investigators are available to meet virtually any private investigation need:

• criminal defense
• insurance fraud
• suspicions of infidelity
• security and threat assessments
• finding lost loved ones
• background investigations

Your confidentiality is assured. Our team of investigators knows how to keep the "private" in private investigations.