Civil Investigations


Civil Investigations: An Overview

Civil investigations attempt to uncover, collect and document the required information to use in civil trials. Civil trials involve cases pertaining to two citizens and their respective issues. The findings of such investigations help the court trials with expert reports that can help the jury come to a decision regarding the case.

Different categories of civil investigations

Civil investigation can take any form, but the most common ones generally fall into the following categories:

  • Background check: This is one of the most common types of investigation and helps uncover the truth about people involved in your personal or business life.
  • Home surveillance: This is also relatively common and often pertains to finding information on personnel you hire at home such as nannies, security personnel, medical caregivers, etc.
  • Marital matters: This is about investigations for matters related to divorces, domestic violence, infidelity, pre-marital checks, etc.
  • Personal injury cases: This involves finding out everything related to how an injury might have occurred, who was involved etc.
  • Missing persons: Such investigations involve investigating the last whereabouts of the individual, checking on all the people related to the missing person, etc.
  • Fraud cases: This is for finding the truth about assets, company funds, insurance fraud, workers’ compensation matters, etc.
  • Child custody cases: This involves finding things that can impact such cases such as mistreatment of a child, abuse cases, parental neglect, etc.

The process of a civil investigation

The first step in any civil investigation is the meeting between the investigator and the lawyer or the person who wants to conduct the investigation. The civil investigator is given all relevant information pertaining to the case and any additional information that is needed for the case. At this stage, the investigator and the client might discuss the investigator’s fee and the budget for the case.

Civil investigators can then employ a variety of legal methods to obtain the necessary information for their clients. These methods can include background checks, medical investigations, checking forensic reports, interviews with different people that might help the case such as witnesses, and surveillance of other people and places.

Once the investigators find anything useful they share the finding with the clients and investigate more depending on the needs of the case. They may also document the findings to present to the clients. There are times when civil investigators are also asked to stand as witnesses or experts to help civil trials. This is because they work closely with information and matters related to the case at hand.

The importance of civil investigations

Court trials depend on solid evidence presented by lawyers of both parties involved in a case. The right investigator can help you win the case by finding out relevant proof and witnesses needed to win the case. In court, proof is everything. The more solid your proof the better your chances of you winning the case. Professional investigators employ legal tools for their job and can provide you with information that might win you the case. Visit our Private Investigator Directory to hire a professional in your area.

Child Abuse?

Child abuse is generally considered to be the physical or psychological-emotional mistreatment of children. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define child abuse as: “any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in the harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.”

There are other variations of the definition as well. According to the Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect, child abuse is “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm”.

Most child abuse and mistreatment occur in a child’s own home, with some child abuse occurring in organizations such as schools, churches, or other organizations or communities the child attends or interacts with.

Types of Child Abuse

There are four major categories of child abuse:

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Child sexual abuse

Different jurisdictions have developed their own definitions of what constitutes child abuse and child mistreatment for the purposes of removing a child from a family and/or prosecuting a criminal charge.

Child Neglect

Child neglect is generally defined as “the failure of a person responsible for a child’s care and upbringing to safeguard the child’s emotional and physical health and general well-being”. The harm to a child may or may not be the intended consequence.

The following are types of child neglect:

  • Failure to provide care
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Medical/dental neglect
  • Educational deficiencies
  • Failure to adequately supervise
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Exposure to violent or harmful environments
  • Exposure to unsafe living conditions

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


  1. Civil Investigations! As someone who has been employed in the private sector all my life, it still amazes me how people from criminal investigation backgrounds feel they can walk into civil investigation, no training and just carry on the same. In the UK criminal and civil law are completely different.


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