2005 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A; Appropriations
By: Representative Malone
AN ACT TO CREATE THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS LAW; TO DEFINE TERMS TO BE USED IN THIS ACT; TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI STATE BOARD OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR EXAMINERS; TO ESTABLISH QUALIFICATIONS OF BOARD MEMBERS; TO PROVIDE POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE BOARD; TO CREATE THE POSITION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BOARD; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD ESTABLISH MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR LICENSING; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD TO ISSUE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LICENSES; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD DETERMINE THE SCOPE, FORM AND CONTENT OF EXAMINATIONS FOR LICENSURE; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD ESTABLISH PROCEDURES FOR ACCEPTING OR DENYING APPLICATIONS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE FORM OF THE LICENSE; TO REQUIRE EACH PERSON PERFORMING THE DUTIES OF A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR SHALL APPLY TO THE BOARD FOR A REGISTRATION CARD; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD APPROVE ALL TRAINING PROGRAMS; TO PROVIDE A SCHEDULE OF FEES; TO PROVIDE AUTHORITY FOR BOARD TO SUSPEND, REVOKE OR IMPOSE PROBATIONARY OR OTHER RESTRICTIONS ON LICENSES; TO PROVIDE FOR UNLAWFUL ACTS; TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR UNLAWFUL ACTS; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD TO PROVIDE PUNISHMENT FOR UNLAWFUL ACTS; TO CREATE A SPECIAL FUND IN THE STATE TREASURY FOR THE MISSISSIPPI STATE BOARD OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR EXAMINERS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE DUTIES OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR; TO PROVIDE FOR MEETINGS OF THE BOARD; TO PROVIDE FOR STANDING COMMITTEES OF THE BOARD; TO PROVIDE FOR ADDITIONAL FEES; TO PROVIDE FOR INVESTIGATIVE EDUCATIONAL INSTRUCTION; TO PROVIDE FOR THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF AN INVESTIGATOR; TO PROVIDE FOR THE PROCEDURE FOR HEARING COMPLAINTS BEFORE THE BOARD OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS; TO DESCRIBE THE TYPES OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT FOR INVESTIGATORS; TO PROVIDE FOR PROCEEDINGS TO ADJUDICATE AN ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT ACTION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The Legislature of Mississippi declares that it is in the best interest of the citizens of Mississippi to require the licensure of private investigators and businesses.
The purpose of this act is to require qualifying criteria in a professional field in which unqualified individuals may injure the public. The requirements of this act shall contribute to the safety, health and welfare of the people of Mississippi.
SECTION 2. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Private Investigators Law."
SECTION 3. As used in this act, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Applicant" means a person who seeks to be examined for licensure or certification by the board.
(b) "Board" means the Mississippi State Board of Private Investigator Examiners within the Department of Public Safety.
(c) "Contract private investigator company" means any person engaged in the business of providing, or which undertakes to provide, an investigator on a contractual basis for another person.
(d) "Executive director" means the chief administrative officer of the board.
(e) "Licensee" means any person to whom a license is granted in accordance with the provisions of this act and who may certify the successful completion of the required minimum training for private investigator apprentices.
(f) "Person" means an individual, firm, association, company, partnership, corporation, nonprofit organization or other legal entity.
(g) "Principal corporate officer" means the president, treasurer, secretary, or comptroller or any other persons who performs functions for the corporation corresponding to those performed by the foregoing officers.
(h) (i) "Private investigator" or "private detective" means any person who holds out to the general public and engages in the business of furnishing or who accepts employment to furnish information or who agrees to make or makes an investigation for the purpose of obtaining information with reference to the following:
1. Crimes or wrongs committed.
2. Identity, habits, conduct, business, occupations, honesty, integrity, credibility, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency, loyalty, activity, movement, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation or character of any person.
3. The location, disposition or recovery of stolen property.
4. The cause or responsibility for fires, libels, losses, accidents, damages or injuries to persons or to properties. However, scientific research laboratories, technical experts and licensed engineers shall not be included in this definition.
5. Securing evidence to be used before any court, board, officer or investigative committee.
(ii) The definition "pi" or "pdetc" shall not include any of the following:
1. Insurer employees or agents and insurance adjusters or claims agents who make appraisals for the monetary value or settlement of damages or monetary value or settlement of personal injuries.
2. An officer or employee of the United States, this state or any political subdivision of either while such officer or employee is engaged in the performance of his or her official duties within the course and scope of his or her employment with the United States, this state or any political subdivision.
3. A person engaged exclusively in the business of obtaining and furnishing information as to the financial rating or credit worthiness of persons.
4. An attorney at law licensed to practice in this state and his or her employees.
5. Undercover agents working with the United States, this state or any political subdivision while engaged in the performance of their official duties.
6. A person primarily engaged in the business of furnishing confidential information for the purposes of a consumer reporting agency, as defined by the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USCS 1681 et seq.
7. A person licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Private Security Examiners only when investigating at his or her place of employment during the performance of his or her duties.
8. A person or corporation which employs persons who do private investigative work in connection with the affairs of such employer exclusively and who have an employer-employee relationship with such employer. Neither such persons or corporations nor their employees shall be required to register or be licensed under this act.
9. A person engaged as a professional employment screening consultant conducting face-to-face interview with an applicant or candidate for employment.
10. A certified public accountant licensed to practice in this state and his or her employees.
(i) "Registrant" means an individual who holds a valid registration card issued by the board.
(j) "Registration card" means the identification card issued by the board to a registrant as evidence that the registrant has met the required minimum qualifications to perform the duties of a private investigator or apprentice.
SECTION 4. (1) The Mississippi State Board of Private Investigator Examiners is hereby created within the Department of Public Safety. The board shall be a body corporate and may sue and be sued.
(2) The board shall be comprised of seven (7) members appointed by the Governor. One (1) member shall be appointed from each of the four (4) congressional districts and one (1) at large as established by law and shall be a resident of the district from which he or she is appointed. The Governor shall appoint one (1) licensed attorney to serve on the board from the state at large and one (1) member from the state at large appointed from a list of names submitted by the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Private Investigators Association. Each member of the board shall be a citizen of the United States of America, a resident of Mississippi, at least twenty-one (21) years of age and, except for the attorney appointed from the state at large, shall have been actively engaged in the private investigator business for the previous five (5) years, earning at least ninety percent (90%) of his or her gross income for the year preceding his or her appointment from the private investigator business. No more than two (2) board members may be employed by or affiliated with the same agency. The initial board members shall not be required to be licensed but shall obtain a license within one hundred eighty (180) days after appointment to the board. Each subsequent member shall be a licensed private investigator.
(3) The board shall be domiciled in Jackson, Mississippi, and may meet at such other location in the state as may be determined by the board.
(4) Each member shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Each appointment by the Governor shall be submitted to the Senate for confirmation.
(5) Any vacancy on the board caused by the death, resignation or disability of a member shall be filled by appointment by the Governor. A person appointed to fill a vacancy on the board shall possess the same qualifications and residency requirements as the person whose position on the board is being filled by the appointment.
(6) Each member of the board shall receive a certificate or commission from the Governor and before beginning his or her term of office shall file with the Secretary of State a written oath or affirmation for faithful discharge of his or her official duties.
(7) (a) No member of the board shall receive a per diem but shall be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred when attending a meeting of the board of any of its committees and for the time spent on behalf of the board on official business, not to exceed ten (10) days in any month.
(b) Each member shall be reimbursed, upon approval of the board as evidenced by voucher, for all necessary travel, incidental and clerical expenses incurred in carrying out the provisions of this act.
SECTION 5. (1) The board shall:
(a) Examine all applicants desiring to be licensed as a private investigator or private investigator agency in the State of Mississippi.
(b) Administer a written examination for prospective licensees at least twice each year in the City of Jackson.
(c) Adopt rules and regulations to govern the practice of a private investigator in the State of Mississippi.
(d) Issue, suspend, modify or revoke license certificates to practice as a private investigator or apprentice in the State of Mississippi.
(e) Report to the Attorney General of the state all persons violating the provisions of this act.
(f) Elect a chairman and vice chairman, each to serve a term of two (2) years.
(g) Report, no later than October 1 of each year, to the Governor, the Secretary of State, and the Legislature on its activities.
(h) Adopt its official seal.
(2) The board may:
(a) Adopt and enforce such rules and regulations, bylaws and rules of professional conduct as the board may deem necessary and proper to regulate private investigator businesses in the State of Mississippi, to provide for the efficient operation of the board, and otherwise to discharge its powers, duties and functions under the provisions of this act.
(b) Prescribe and adopt regulations, standards, procedures and policies governing the manner and conditions under which credit shall be given by the board for participation in professional education such as the board may consider necessary and appropriate to maintain the highest standards of the private investigator industry in the State of Mississippi.
(c) Authorize any member of the board to make any affidavit necessary for the issuance of any injunction or other legal process authorized under this act or under the rules and regulations of the board.
(d) Issue subpoenas to require attendance and testimony and the production of documents, for the purpose of enforcing the laws relative to the private investigator industry and securing evidence of violations thereof.
(e) Maintain a current list of licensed private investigators.
(f) Appoint a qualified executive director.
(g) Employ clerical assistance necessary to carry out the administrative work of the board.
(h) Employ legal counsel to carry out the provisions of this act. The fees of such counsel and the cost of all proceedings except criminal prosecutions shall be paid by the board from its own funds.
(i) Incur all necessary and proper expenses.
(3) The chairman and executive director of the board or, in their absence, any other member of the board, may administer oaths in the taking of testimony given before the board.
(4) The board shall meet quarterly at regular meetings each year. A special meeting may be held at such time and place as specified by the executive director on call of the chairman or any four (4) members. The executive director shall give written notice of all meetings to the members of the board and to the interested public.
(5) Four (4) members of the board shall constitute a quorum for all purposes, including the granting or issuance of licenses and the rulemaking and adjudicative functions of the board.
(6) The board shall have the authority to:
(a) Request and obtain state and national criminal history record information on any person applying for any license or registration which the board is authorized by law to issue.
(b) Require any applicant for any license or registration, which the board is authorized to issue, to submit two (2) full sets of fingerprints, in a form and manner prescribed by the board, as a condition to the board's consideration of his or her application.
(c) Charge and collect from an applicant for any license or registration which the board is authorized to issue, in addition to all other applicable fees and costs, such amount as may be incurred by the board in requesting and obtaining criminal history record information on the applicant.
SECTION 6. (1) The position of executive director of the board is hereby created. The executive director shall be appointed by the board with consent of the Governor and shall serve as the chief administrator of the board. He or she shall not be a member of the board, but shall be a full-time unclassified employee of the board who shall be paid compensation in an amount to be determined by the board which shall not exceed Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) annually. The office, equipment and furnishings of the board and the executive director shall be initially furnished by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
(2) The executive director shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by the board. He or she shall have no financial or business interests, contingent dealings or otherwise, in the private investigator industry while so employed or for a period of two (2) years after termination of employment.
SECTION 7. (1) The board shall base the determination of the satisfactory minimum qualifications for licensing on whether or not the applicant satisfies the following criteria:
(a) Is of legal age.
(b) Is a citizen of the United States or a resident alien holding proper documentation to work in the United States.
(c) Has not been convicted in any jurisdiction of any felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude.
(d) Has not been declared by any court of competent jurisdiction to be incompetent by reason of mental defect or disease which has not been restored.
(e) Is not a practicing alcoholic or drug addict.
(f) If a corporation, shall be incorporated under the laws of this state or shall be duly qualified to do business within the state with a valid certificate of authority issued by the Secretary of State, and shall have an agent for service of process designated as required by law.
(2) If, in the discretion of the board, the applicant provides inadequate information to allow the board to ascertain whether the applicant satisfies the qualifications for licensure, the applicant shall be required to provide additional information for the purpose of the application, or may be required to present himself or herself for an interview for this purpose.
(3) An applicant for licensing shall file with the board an application form provided by the board. The form shall require such relevant information about the applicant’s character, experience and background as the board may determine and the following:
(a) If the applicant is an individual, the application shall be subscribed and sworn to by such person before a notary and two (2) witnesses.
(b) If the applicant is a partnership, the application shall be subscribed and sworn to by each partner before a notary and two (2) witnesses.
(c) If the applicant is a corporation, it shall be subscribed and sworn to by at least two (2) principal corporate officers before a notary and two (2) witnesses.
(d) Any individual signing a license application shall submit with the license application classifiable impressions of his fingerprints on a form approved by the board.
(4) Every person covered by this act within the state on July 1, 2005, shall have one hundred eighty (180) days after the board is duly constituted to apply to the board for a license to operate. Any such person filing a timely application may continue to engage in business pending a final determination of his application.
SECTION 8. (1) As used in this section the following terms shall have the following meaning:
(a) "Bureau" means the Mississippi Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information of the office of state police within the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
(b) "Criminal history record information" means information collected by state and federal criminal justice agencies on individuals consisting of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, bills of information or any formal criminal charges, and any disposition arising therefrom, including sentencing and criminal correctional supervision and release, but does not include intelligence for investigatory purposes, nor does it include any identification information which does not indicate involvement of the individual in the criminal justice system.
(c) "FBI" means the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States Department of Justice.
(d) "Licensure" means any license or registration which the board is authorized to issue.
(2) In addition to any other requirements established by law or board rules, the board shall require an applicant, as a condition for eligibility for licensure, to submit two (2) full sets of fingerprints, on a form and in a manner prescribed by the board, to permit the board to request and obtain state and national criminal history record information on the applicant and to charge and collect from the applicant, in addition to all other applicable fees and costs, such amount as may be incurred by the board in requesting and obtaining state and national criminal history record information on the applicant.
(3) In accordance with the provisions and procedures prescribed by this section, the board shall request and obtain state and national criminal history record information from the bureau within the FBI relative to any applicant for licensure whose fingerprints the board has obtained pursuant to this section for the purpose of determining the applicant’s suitability and eligibility for licensure.
(4) Upon request by the board and upon the board’s submission of an applicant’s fingerprints, and such other identifying information as may be required, the bureau shall conduct a search of its criminal history record information relative to the applicant and report the results of its search to the board within sixty (60) days after receipt of any such request. The bureau may charge the board a reasonable processing fee for conducting and reporting the results of any such search.
(5) The board shall also forward the applicant’s fingerprints and such other identifying information as may be required to the FBI with a request for a search of national criminal history record information relative to the applicant.
(6) Any and all state or national criminal history record information obtained by the board from the bureau or FBI which is not already a matter of public record shall be deemed nonpublic and confidential information restricted to the exclusive use of the board, its members, officers, investigators, agents and attorneys in evaluating the applicant’s eligibility or disqualification for licensure. No such information or records related thereto shall, except with the written consent of the applicant or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, be released or otherwise disclosed by the board to any other person or agency.
SECTION 9. (1) The board is authorized to issue the following types of licenses to qualified applicants:
(a) (i) "Private investigation agency license" issued to any person or entity, where the individual seeking license or the partner of the partnership seeking license or the principal corporate officer of the corporation seeking license:
1. Has at least three (3) years experience within the last ten (10) years either working as a private investigator or in an investigative capacity; and
2. Satisfies all other requirements for licensing.
(ii) The provisions of this paragraph requiring investigative experience for licensing as a private investigator agency shall not apply to any person or entity licensed as a private investigator agency on July 1, 2005.
(b) "Private investigator license" issued to any person, who satisfies the requirements for licensing and is employed by a licensed private investigator agency.
(c) "Apprentice license" issued to any person who satisfies the minimum requirements for licensing as an apprentice, as established by rules and regulations promulgated by the board.
(2) The individual or the partner of the partnership or the principal corporate officer of the corporation with the requisite experience licensed to operate as a "private investigator agency" may operate as a private investigator and hire others licensed as a "private investigator."
(3) The individual licensed as a "private investigator" may only operate as a private investigator if employed by a licensed private investigator agency.
SECTION 10. (1) After receipt of an application for a license, the board shall conduct an investigation to determine whether the facts set forth in the application are true.
(2) Within sixty (60) days after receipt of an application, the board shall either issue a license to the applicant or notify him or her of a denial of the license application.
(3) If the board requires additional information from the applicant to complete its investigation or otherwise to satisfy the requirements of this act, or if the applicant has not submitted all required information, the sixty-day period for action by the board shall commence when the board has received all such information.
(4) The board shall deny the application for a license if it finds that the applicant, or the qualifying agent, or any of the applicant’s owners, partners or principal corporate officers have committed any of the following:
(a) Violated any of the provisions of this act or the rules and regulations promulgated by the board.
(b) Practiced fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
(c) Knowingly made a material misstatement in the application for a license.
(d) Failed to meet the qualifications of this act.
(e) Been convicted of a felony.
(5) The board may refuse to issue a license for good cause shown.
SECTION 11. (1) The board shall determine the scope, form and content of the examinations for licensure. The examination, which shall be written, shall test the applicant’s knowledge of the private investigator business and his or her ability to apply that knowledge and to assume responsible charge in the practice of private investigator.
(2) The examination shall include such subject areas as general federal and state constitutional principles and court decisions related to activities which could result in liability for invasion of privacy or other activities, search and seizure laws in general, state criminal laws and related procedures, and general weapons use and concealed weapons laws. The board shall review and make use of nationally accepted and appropriate examinations to the extent practical.
(3) The board shall conduct or contract for the conduct of a forty-hour training class covering the subject areas of the licensing examination and shall require completion of an approved training class for a licensed applicant prior to the taking of the examination.
SECTION 12. (1) The procedure of the board in approving or denying an application shall be as follows:
(a) If the application is approved, the board shall notify the applicant in writing that a license shall be issued.
(b) If the application is denied, the board shall notify the applicant in writing and shall set forth the grounds for denial.
(c) (i) If the grounds for denial are subject to correction by the applicant, the notice of denial shall so state and the applicant shall be given ten (10) days after receipt of such notice, or, upon application, a reasonable additional period of time within which to make the required correction.
(ii) If the application is denied, the applicant, within thirty (30) days after receipt of notice of denial from the board, may request a hearing on the denial. Within ten (10) days after the filing of such request for hearing by the applicant, the board shall schedule a hearing to be held after due notice to the applicant. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.
(2) The board shall issue a license as a private investigator to each applicant who meets the requirements of this act, passes satisfactorily the examination administered by the board and pays the required fee.
(3) Any applicant who fails an examination may be reexamined upon expiration of at least thirty (30) days and upon filing a new application and payment of the reexamination fee.
(4) A qualified agency or company in existence on July 1, 2005, may be licensed without an examination, upon approval of the board, if application is made to the board before January 1, 2006. In determining the qualifications of an applicant for licensing under this subsection, an affirmative vote of at least four (4) members of the board is required.
(5) Upon satisfactorily passing the examination administered by the board and paying the required fee the following persons, if otherwise qualified, may be licensed without the necessity of taking the training course:
(a) Any person who was a commissioned law enforcement officer in this state as of July 1, 2005, and who has a valid certificate from a law enforcement training center accredited by the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
(b) Any person who was a commissioned law enforcement officer prior to July 1, 2005, and who was certified under the provisions of Section 45-6-11.
(c) Any person who was a commissioned law enforcement officer in another state as of July 1, 2005, and who holds a certificate from a law enforcement training center in that state which meets the requirements that are comparable to that of Mississippi.
SECTION 13. (1) The license, when issued, shall be in a form prescribed by the board and shall include the following:
(a) Name of licensee.
(b) Business name under which the licensee is to operate.
(c) Addresses of the locations where the licensee is operating or will operate.
(d) Number and date of the license and its date of expiration.
(2) No license shall be assigned or transferred either by operation of law or otherwise.
(3) If a sale, assignment, transfer, merger or consolidation of a business licensed under this act is completed, the purchaser, assignee, transferee or surviving or new corporation, who is not already a licensee, shall immediately apply for a license on a form prescribed by the board which shall include the general information required by this act.
(4) The purchaser, assignee, transferee or surviving or new corporation shall be subject to the same general requirements and procedures set forth in this act to the extent such sections are applicable, and may continue the operation of that licensed business until notified by the board of its final decision on the new application for a license.
(5) For good cause shown, the board may extend the period of time for filing the application required.
SECTION 14. (1) (a) Within seventy-two (72) hours after receipt of the license certificate, the licensee shall cause the license certificate to be posted and to be displayed at all times in a conspicuous place in the principal office of the licensee within the state.
(b) Copies of the license certificate shall be displayed at all times in any other office within the state where the licensee transacts business.
(c) Such license certificates, or copies thereof, shall be subject to inspection at all reasonable times by the board.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person holding such a license certificate knowingly and willfully to post or to permit the posting of the license certificate upon premises other than those described in the license certificate, or knowingly and willfully to alter such license certificate.
(3) (a) Each license certificate shall be surrendered to the board within seventy-two (72) hours after it has been revoked or after the licensee ceases to do business.
(b) If the board or a court of competent jurisdiction has pending before it any matter relating to the renewal, revocation or transfer of a license, the licensee shall not be required to surrender the license certificate until the matter has been adjudicated and all appeals have been exhausted.
(c) When the licensee receives final notice that its license has been revoked, a copy of such notice shall be displayed and posted in close proximity to the license certificate until the licensee terminates operations.
SECTION 15. The licensee shall notify the board within thirty (30) days of any changes in its officers, directors or material change in the information previously furnished or required to be furnished to the board, or of any occurrence which could reasonably be expected to affect the licensee’s right to a license under this act.
SECTION 16. (1) (a) Each person who in performing the functions and duties of a private investigator in this state on July 1, 2005, shall have one hundred eighty (180) days after the board is duly constituted to apply to the board for a registration card.
(b) A registration card may be issued to an apprentice by the board pending issuance of a permanent registration card. The registration card for the apprentice shall be valid for not more than one (1) year.
(c) Individuals required to obtain a registration card under the provisions of this act shall request an application form from this board and upon completion thereof shall immediately forward the sworn application to the board.
(d) (i) The board shall prescribe by rule the form for such applications and procedures for their submission, consideration and disposition, including the fee to accompany the application.
(ii) To be eligible to apply for a registration card, an individual shall have the same qualifications required of an applicant listed under Section 7 of this act.
(2) Each investigator shall carry his or her registration card whenever he or she is performing the duties of a private investigator, and it shall be exhibited upon request. The registration card shall entitle the registrant to perform the duties of a private investigator as long as the registrant maintains his or her eligibility under the provisions of this act.
(3) The registration card shall bear the name of the employer, an identifying number, photograph and any other identifying data required by the board.
(4) After receipt of an application for a registration card, the board shall conduct an investigation to determine whether the facts set forth in the application are true. Actions by the board to approve or deny an application for a registration card shall be the same as that action taken to deny or approve an application for license as provided under Section 12 of this act.
(5) (a) In the event that the board denies, suspends or revokes a registration card, the cardholder, upon receipt of the notice of denial, suspension or revocation, shall immediately cease to perform the duties of a private investigator, unless specifically authorized to continue work by order of the board or by a court of competent jurisdiction within the state.
(b) Both the cardholder and the employer shall be notified by the board of its final action to deny, suspend or revoke a registration card.
(6) (a) Registration cards issued by the board shall be valid for one (1) year. The registrant shall be required to advise the board of any changes in his or her status or permanent address during that period. The cardholder shall file a registration card renewal form with the board not less than thirty (30) days prior to the expiration of the card, together with the fee for renewal. The renewal application shall include a statement by the registrant that he or she continues to meet the qualifications for a private investigator as set forth by the board. The renewal application shall be accompanied by a statement from the licensee that the registrant has satisfactorily completed the required training as prescribed by the board.
(b) The board may refuse to renew a registration card and shall promptly notify the cardholder of its intent to refuse. The cardholder, within fifteen (15) days after receipt of such notice, may request a hearing on the refusal, in the same manner and in accordance with the same procedure as that provided in Section 56 of this act.
(c) A licensee or employer shall notify the board within ten (10) days after the death or termination of employment of any of its employees who are registrants. Licensees or employers subject to this act shall notify the board within ten (10) days upon receipt of information relating to a registrant’s loss of eligibility to hold such a card.
(7) (a) Any individual who changes his or her permanent residence to this state from any other state which the board determines has selection, training and similar requirements at least equal to those required under this act, and who holds a valid registration, commission, identification or similar card issued by the other state through the licensee, may apply for a registration card on a form prescribed by the board upon the payment of a transfer fee. Upon certification by the licensee that the individual has completed the training prescribed by the other state, the board shall issue the individual a registration card.
(b) In the event that a person who holds a registration card terminates employment with one (1) employer and is reemployed within five (5) calendar days as an investigator with another employer, the new employer, within seventy-two (72) hours of such reemployment, shall submit to the board a notice of the change on a form prescribed by the board, together with a transfer fee. The board shall then issue a new registration card reflecting the name of the new employer.
(c) Upon receipt of that new card, the cardholder shall immediately return the old card to the board. The holder may continue to work as an investigator for the new employer while the board is processing the change in application. The holder of a registration card who terminates employment and who is not reemployed as an investigator within five (5) calendar days, shall surrender, within twenty-four (24) hours of the fifth calendar day, the registration card to the former employer. The employer shall return the cancelled registration card to the board within five (5) business days after receiving it.
(8) A registration card shall be subject to expiration and renewal during the period in which the holder of the card is subject to an order of suspension.
SECTION 17. (1) The board shall approve all training programs.
(2) All training required by this act shall be administered by a licensee who:
(a) Is approved by the board.
(b) Meets the qualifications of an applicant required by Sections 7 and 8 of this act.
(c) Has a minimum of three (3) years supervisory experience with a contract investigator company or proprietary investigator organization.
SECTION 18. (1) The board shall assess the following schedule of fees which shall not be refundable:
(a) Private investigator agency:
(i) Application fee..................... $ 25.00
(ii) Examination fee.................... $ 50.00
(iii) Reexamination fee................. $ 25.00
(iv) Initial license fee................ $200.00
(v) Annual renewal license fee.......... $200.00
(vi) Replacement fee for a lost, destroyed or mutilated license $ 25.00
(b) Private investigator or apprentice investigator:
(i) Application fee..................... $ 25.00
(ii) Examination fee.................... $ 50.00
(iii) Reexamination fee................. $ 25.00
(iv) Initial license fee per investigator or apprentice $ 50.00
(v) Annual renewal license fee.......... $ 50.00
(c) The board shall assess a reasonable training class fee not greater than an amount necessary to cover the actual costs for the conduct of the training class.
(2) All fees shall be paid by check or money order made payable to the board.
(3) Any fees payable by a registrant under this act, or paid by a licensee on the registrant's behalf, or any deposits which may be required by a licensee from a registrant under this act, may be deducted from any wages payable to the registrant by the licensee. However, no such deduction shall reduce the hourly wage of the registrant below that required by the applicable minimum wage law.
SECTION 19. (1) A license shall expire annually on the date of issuance unless renewed by payment of the required renewal fee at least thirty (30) days prior to its expiration. The board shall notify the licensee of the renewal at his or her last known address at least sixty (60) days in advance of the expiration and on the expiration date. If a license is not renewed within thirty (30) days after the expiration date, it shall be deemed to have lapsed and to be invalid. The delinquent private investigator business or the private investigator shall apply again for initial licensure. If the license renewal is made prior to the thirty-day grace period but after the expiration date, the private investigator business shall pay a fine of Thirty-five Dollars ($35.00) and an additional Twenty Dollars ($20.00) per investigator.
(2) The board shall use the same license number when issuing a renewed license as that issued for the original license or shall deny renewal within thirty (30) days. The board shall promptly notify the licensee if it refuses to renew the license.
(3) The licensee, within fifteen (15) days after receipt of the board’s notice of refusal, shall cease engaging in the private investigator business.
SECTION 20. (1) A person holding a license to engage in the private investigator business issued to him or her by a proper authority of any state, territory or possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, which has licensing requirements comparable to Mississippi, and who in the opinion of the board otherwise meets the requirements of this act, upon application, may be licensed without further examination.
(2) The board shall have the power to enter into an agreement with other states or territories or possessions of the United States or with the District of Columbia for reciprocity or recognition of private investigators duly licensed by such states, territories or possessions or the District of Columbia. The agreements shall allow those investigators to provide and perform private investigative work in Mississippi upon such terms as set forth in the agreement.
SECTION 21. (1) The board may refuse to issue or may suspend, revoke or impose probationary or other restrictions on any license issued under this act for good cause shown which shall include the following:
(a) Conviction of a felony or entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony charge under the laws of the United States or of any state.
(b) Deceit or perjury in obtaining any certificate or license issued under this act.
(c) Providing false testimony before the board.
(d) Efforts to deceive or defraud the public.
(e) Professional incompetency or gross negligence.
(f) Rendering, submitting, subscribing or verifying false, deceptive, misleading or unfounded opinions or reports.
(g) The refusal of the licensing authority of another state to issue or renew a license, permit or certificate to practice in that state, or the revocation of, suspension of, or other restriction imposed on a license, permit or certificate issued by such licensing authority.
(h) Aiding or abetting a person to evade the provisions of this act or knowingly combining or conspiring with an unlicensed person, or acting as an agent, partner, associate or otherwise, of an unlicensed person with intent to evade provisions of this act.
(i) Violation of any provision of this act or any rules and regulations of the board or rules of professional conduct promulgated by the board.
(2) The board, as a probationary condition or as a condition of the reinstatement of any license suspended or revoked hereunder, may require the holder to pay all costs of the board proceedings, including investigators', stenographers' and attorneys’ fees.
(3) A majority vote of the board shall be required for the revocation of any license. A majority vote of the board shall be required for suspension of any license or the imposition of costs or fines in excess of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).
(4) Any license certificate suspended, revoked or otherwise restricted by the board may be reinstated by majority vote of the board.
SECTION 22. (1) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to commit any of the following acts:
(a) Provide contract or private investigator service without possessing a valid license.
(b) Employ an individual to perform the duties of a private investigator who is not the holder of a valid registration card.
(c) Designate an individual other than a private investigator to circumvent the requirements of this act.
(d) Knowingly make any false statement or material omission in any application filed with the board.
(e) Falsely represent that a person is the holder of a valid license or registration.
(f) Violate any provision of this act or any rule or regulation of the board.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any private investigator knowingly to commit any of the following:
(a) Make any statement which would reasonably cause another person to believe that the private investigator functions as a sworn peace officer, or other official of the state or of any of its political subdivisions, or an agency of the federal government.
(b) Fail to comply with the regulations issued by the board or with any other requirements under the provisions of the act.
(c) Divulge to anyone, other than his or her employer, or to such persons as his or her employer may direct, or as may be required by law, any information acquired during such employment that may compromise the employer or assignment to which he or she has been assigned by such employer.
(d) Possess a license or registration card issued to another person.
SECTION 23. (1) No person shall engage in the business of providing private investigators except in accordance with the provisions of this act and the rules and regulations adopted by the board hereunder.
(2) Whoever willfully violates any provisions of this act shall be fined not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) or imprisoned for not less than three (3) months nor more than one (1) year, or both.
SECTION 24. (1) In addition to or in lieu of the criminal penalties and administrative sanctions provided in this act, the board is empowered to issue an order to any person or firm engaged in any activity, conduct or practice constituting a violation of any provision of this act, directing such person or firm to forthwith cease and desist from such activity, conduct or practice. Such order shall be issued in the name of the State of Mississippi under the official seal of the board.
(2) If the person or firm to whom the board directs a cease and desist order does not cease and desist the prohibited activity, conduct or practice within two (2) days from service of such cease and desist order by certified mail, the board may seek, in any court of competent jurisdiction and proper venue, a writ of injunction enjoining such person or firm from engaging in the activity, conduct or practice.
(3) (a) Upon proper showing of the board that such person or firm has engaged in any activity, conduct or practice prohibited by this act, the court shall issue a temporary restraining order restraining the person or firm from engaging in unlawful activity, conduct or practices pending the hearing on a preliminary injunction, and in due course a permanent injunction shall be issued after a hearing, commanding the cessation of the unlawful activity, conduct, practices complained of, all without the necessity of the board having to give bond as usually required in such cases.
(b) A temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or permanent injunction issued hereunder shall not be subject to being released upon bond.
SECTION 25. (1) All fees and funds collected by the board from every source shall be paid into the State Treasury and shall be credited to a special fund hereby created in the State Treasury and designated as the fund for the Mississippi State Board of Private Investigator Examiners.
(2) The monies in the fund shall be used solely to effectuate the provisions of this act and only in the amounts appropriated each year by the Legislature to the board.
(3) All unexpended and unencumbered monies in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall remain in the fund. The monies in the fund shall be invested by the Treasurer in the same manner as monies in the State General Fund. All interest earned on monies invested by the Treasurer shall be deposited in the fund.
SECTION 26. The adoption of any rule or regulation, guideline, substantive procedure or code of conduct by the board shall be subject to the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act; however, such rules shall be subject to legislative oversight by the House Judiciary B Committee and Senate Business and Financial Institution Committee.
SECTION 27. The chairperson (chair) of the Board of Private Investigator Examiners (board) shall exercise general supervision of the board's affairs, shall preside at all meetings when present, shall appoint the committees within the board and shall perform all other duties pertaining to the office as deemed necessary and appropriate.
The vice chairperson shall perform the duties of the chair in his or her absence or such other duties as may be assigned by the chair.
SECTION 28. (1) The executive director shall be the chief administrative officer and shall serve at the pleasure of the board.
(2) Subject to the supervision of and direction of the board, the executive director shall:
(a) Act as the board's recording and corresponding secretary and shall have custody and maintain the records of the board;
(b) Cause written minutes of every meeting to be taken and maintained;
(c) Arrange the order of business of all meetings and notify all persons who are to appear at such meeting;
(d) Act as treasurer and receive and deposit all funds, and keep the records and books of account of the board’s financial affairs;
(e) Attest all itemized vouchers for payment of expenses of the board;
(f) Prepare such reports to the Governor and Legislature as required by law or as requested by same;
(g) Keep the board's seal and affix it to such instruments and matters that require attest and approval of the board; and
(h) Perform such other duties as directed by the board.
(3) The executive director may spend up to Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for board purchases without prior approval by the board or the chair.
SECTION 29. (1) Meetings shall be announced and held in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act. A quorum to transact any business of the board shall not be less than four (4) of its members.
(2) The executive director shall give a written notice to all interested members of the public who make a timely written request for notice of any board meeting.
(3) Minutes of meetings will be made available upon written request to the board and a monetary fee will be assessed in accordance with the Division of Administration rules and regulations governing public records of any individual or company requesting such minutes.
(4) Each board member shall have one (1) vote on all matters before the board. Proxy voting is not allowed. A majority vote of the members at any meeting shall be required for any board actions.
SECTION 30. (1) The official seal of the board consists of the Mississippi state seal with the title of the board in the outer circle.
(2) No person or licensee shall use any facsimile reproduction or pictorial portion of the seal of the State of Mississippi on any badge, credentials, identification card or other means of identification used in connection with any activity regulated under this act.
SECTION 31. (1) Standing committees of the board are:
(a) General committee, whose duties include special projects as authorized by the chair;
(b) Finance committee, whose duties include periodic review of the budget, recommendations regarding the establishment of fees charged by the board and recommendations to the board regarding all expenditures in excess of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); and
(2) The chair shall appoint members to any committees as needed to fulfill the duties of the board.
SECTION 32. Any complaint to the board must be in writing, signed by the individual making said complaint and include an appropriate means by which to contact said individual for investigative purposes.
SECTION 33. A public comment period shall be held at or near the beginning of each board meeting. Persons desiring to present public comments shall notify the board chairman or the executive director no later than the beginning of the meeting. However, to assure that an opportunity is afforded all persons who desire to make public comments, the chairman shall inquire at the beginning of the meeting if there are additional persons who wish to comment. The chairman shall allot the time available for the public comments in an equitable manner among those persons desiring to comment, limiting each person to a maximum of three (3) minutes, with the total comment period not to exceed thirty (30) minutes. Each person making public comments shall identify himself or herself and the group, organization or company he or she represents, if any.
SECTION 34. In addition to the definitions set forth in Section 3 of this act, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Branch office" means a separate office which is part of a company licensed by the Board of Private Investigator Examiners.
(b) "Branch manager" means the individual having prima facie responsibility and liability for a branch office.
(c) "Personal service" means process served on any person, when required, may be made by the board mailing, by certified or registered mail, to the person’s last known address.
(d) "Qualifying agent" means a responsible officer or executive employee of an investigative company.
(e) "Rule" means any agency statement of general applicability that implements, interprets or prescribes law or policy, or describes the procedure or practice requirements of the board. It does not include statements concerning only the internal management or organization and not affecting private rights or procedures.
SECTION 35. (1) The board shall issue a two-part application:
(a) Part I shall be designated for investigative agencies; and
(b) Part II shall be designated for individual investigators.
(2) Application shall be sent to all persons requesting application for licensing in the State of Mississippi.
(3) The application shall contain the following information:
(a) Minimum statutory requirements for obtaining a license in the State of Mississippi;
(b) Instructions explaining requirements of the application; and
(c) A schedule of licensing fees for an agency and individual.
(4) Information requested on the application shall include the following:
(a) Company, partnership or corporation history;
(b) Personal history;
(c) Marital status;
(e) Military service;
(f) Employment history;
(g) Character references;
(h) Investigative history;
(i) Miscellaneous questions regarding:
(i) Involvement of overthrow by force of our government;
(ii) Crimes involving moral turpitude;
(iii) Felony convictions;
(iv) Any unfavorable background incidents the applicant should share with the board;
(j) Consent for service of process (out-of-state licensees only); and
(k) Notarized statement confirming the accuracy of the information contained in the application.
(5) If the applicant is a sole proprietor, he or she must furnish a copy of his or her occupational license with the application.
(6) Applicants must submit appropriate fees along with the application. An administration fee of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) made payable to the board will be assessed on all checks returned from the bank and deemed nonsufficient funds.
(7) No person shall make an application to the board as qualifying agent unless that person intends to maintain and does maintain that supervisory position on a regular, full-time basis.
SECTION 36. In addition to the requirements for licensing renewal set forth in Section 19 of this act, applicants for licensing renewal shall be required to submit a certification to the board that the applicant for license renewal has not been convicted of a felony during the past year. The fee notice sent out for licensing renewal shall contain this certification.
SECTION 37. (1) A qualified school may be approved to conduct forty-hour training classes required for licensing by submitting a letter of request for approval by the board. The request shall include the following:
(a) Name and location of school;
(b) Owner of school;
(c) Copy of occupational license;
(d) List of course of study;
(e) Name, address, profession and educational and investigative experience of each instructor teaching a private investigation course; and
(f) Notarized statement that each instructor has a minimum of three (3) years supervisory experience with a contract investigator company or proprietary investigator organization.
(2) Course instructors may invite a licensed attorney at law or licensed Mississippi private investigator to supplement lesson plans regarding the course taught by the instructor.
(3) Course instructors, whether full or part time, shall apply for a license and take the written examination prior to conducting any private investigation classes.
SECTION 38. (1) To be licensed, an applicant must pass a written examination, unless exempt by the grandfather clause, state statute or board resolution. The passing grade of the examination shall be as established by the board.
(2) A person who has not successfully passed the examination can reapply to take the examination twice within a twelve-month period. If, after two (2) attempts, the individual has not successfully passed the examination as required, appropriate board action will be taken.
SECTION 39. (1) Licenses, when issued, shall be in the form of a wall certificate no larger than eight and one-half (8-1/2) inches by eleven (11) inches in size. The certificate shall contain the following information:
(a) Name of licensee and/or agency name under whose authority the license is granted;
(b) Addresses of the agency location(s) (main office and branch offices) responsible for licensee;
(c) Number of license;
(d) Date of issue;
(e) Date of expiration (to be issued every year and may be affixed to certificate in lieu of issuing a new certificate);
(f) The official state insignia;
(g) Agency and qualifying agent if licensee;
(h) Private investigator and agency under whose authority he or she is assigned;
(i) Signature of executive director;
(j) Signature of chairman of the board; and
(k) The official Board of Private Investigator Examiners seal.
(2) The license certificate shall remain the property of the board and will be surrendered upon written request from the board.
(3) Licenses issued by the board shall be valid for a one-year period to begin from the date application was approved by the board.
SECTION 40. (1) Companies wishing to do business in Mississippi must either incorporate here or be duly qualified to do business within this state with a valid certificate of authority issued by the Secretary of State, and shall have an agent for service of process designated as required by law.
(2) Out-of-state companies, or individuals wishing to do business in Mississippi, who satisfied all the licensing requirements outlined by Sections 7 and 8, may do so without examination if the state under which it holds a valid license has licensing requirements comparable to those of Mississippi. Verification of satisfactory completion of such other state’s examination must be submitted to the board. If the out-of-state company or individual is licensed by a state that does not have licensing requirements comparable to those of Mississippi, then the company or individual must satisfy all the licensing requirements outlined in Sections 7 and 8.
(3) Fees for out-of-state companies are the same as for in-state companies except that an out-of-state company shall be required to pay the board for the cost of transportation, lodging and meals at the Mississippi state rate when an examination of records is performed if those records are kept out of state.
SECTION 41. (1) A licensed agency with its principal place of business in the State of Mississippi and a previously unlicensed individual domiciled and residing in the State of Mississippi may apply for the licensing of the previously unlicensed individual as an apprentice as follows:
(a) A letter of intent to sponsor shall be sent to the board by the licensed agency, along with the apprentice application, indicating the agency’s intent to accent the sponsorship and responsibility for the apprentice applicant.
(b) Upon receipt of a letter of intent to sponsor and the completed application from the apprentice candidate, the chairman of the board shall issue a letter acknowledging the receipt of same, provided the apprentice license applicant satisfies the requirements promulgated by the board and all fees required by law have been paid. The letter shall serve as a temporary apprentice registration card until the board meets to consider the application and the issuance of the official apprentice registration card.
(c) No agency may sponsor any more than six (6) apprentice investigators at any one time, and no person shall be licensed as an apprentice if he or she has been licensed as an apprentice before.
(2) An apprentice license shall be effective for one (1) year only; and the apprentice shall operate as a private investigator only under the immediate direction, control and supervision of the sponsoring agency during that time.
(3) (a) The sponsoring agency shall be directly responsible for the supervising and training of the apprentice.
(b) In addition, the sponsoring agency shall be responsible for educating the apprentice in the following areas:
(i) Knowledge of the private investigator business and the laws regulating same and the rules and regulations regulating the practice as a private investigator in this state;
(ii) General federal and state constitutional principles;
(iii) General information regarding invasion of privacy laws, search and seizure laws and related procedures and state concealed weapons law;
(iv) Surveillance techniques;
(v) Photograph principles: video and still; and
(vi) General information regarding the assembling of public information from clerk of court offices and court records.
(4) (a) The apprentice registration card shall remain valid for only one (1) year from the date of the letter serving as the temporary registration card or issuance of the official apprentice registration card, whichever is first, and only so long as the apprentice is working under the supervision of a licensed sponsor agency.
(b) During the apprenticeship period, the apprentice must attend the forty-hour training course approved by the board.
(c) An apprentice license may be transferred to another agency provided the other agency meets all the requirements of law and this section of the rules and regulations, particularly the filing of the letters of intent, regarding sponsorship.
SECTION 42. Notification required by Section 15 of this act of changes in information to be furnished by a licensee shall include:
(a) Termination of a branch manager;
(b) Change of agency name;
(c) Change of agency address;
(d) Change of agency telephone number; and
(e) Change of ownership if agency is sole proprietorship.
SECTION 43. The registration card shall be no larger than two and one-fourth (2-1/4) inches by four (4) inches in size. The registration card shall contain the following information:
(a) Name of investigator;
(b) Name of agency under whose authority license is issued;
(c) Date of expiration;
(d) Current two (2) inches by two (2) inches color photograph;
(e) Drivers license number;
(f) Company name;
(g) Company address (city and state);
(h) License number;
(i) Signature of executive director;
(j) Signature of license holder;
(k) State insignia; and
(l) Board seal.
SECTION 44. In addition to the fees provided by Section 18 of this act, the following schedule of fees shall be assessed:
(a) For licensee or any business entity employing more than one (1) investigator:
(i) Renewal within thirty (30) days after expiration of license........................................................ $200.00
(ii) Late fee........................... $ 35.00
(iii) Per investigator.................. $ 20.00
(iv) Transfer of agent.................. $ 25.00
(b) For private investigator employed by a company or corporation, or apprentice investigator:
(i) Annual renewal license fee.......... $ 50.00
(ii) Replacement fee for a lost, destroyed or mutilated license $ 25.00
(iii) Renewal within thirty (30) days after expiration of license$ 50.00
(iv) Late fee........................... $ 35.00
(v) Transfer of agency.................. $ 25.00
(c) Any individual, partnership or corporation actively operating in the private investigation business since July 1, 2005, who did not apply to the board for a license, will be assessed an administrative fee in the amount of the yearly renewal fee as prescribed by law, per year for each year past July 1, 2005.
SECTION 45. (1) Each licensed private investigator is required to complete a minimum of eight (8) hours of approved investigative educational instruction within the one-year period immediately prior to renewal in order to qualify for a renewal license.
(2) Each licensed private investigator is required to complete and return the Mississippi State Board of Private Investigative Examiners (MSBPIE) continuing educational compliance form with the request for license renewal each year. The form shall be signed under penalty of perjury and shall include documentation of each hour of approved investigation educational instruction completed.
(3) Any licensee who wishes to apply for an extension of time to complete educational instruction requirements must submit a letter of request setting forth reasons for the extension request to the Executive Director of the Mississippi State Board of Private Investigative Examiners (MSBPIE) thirty (30) days prior to license renewal. The training committee shall rule on each request. If an extension is granted, the investigator shall be granted thirty (30) days to complete the required hours. Hours completed during a thirty-day extension shall only apply to the previous year.
SECTION 46. An investigator shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the investigation.
SECTION 47. (1) Both investigator and client have authority and responsibility in the objectives of the investigation. The client has ultimate authority to determine the purposes to be served by the investigation, within the limits imposed by law and the investigator’s professional obligations.
(2) An investigator may limit the objectives of the representation if the client consents after consultation.
(3) An investigator shall not encourage a client to engage or assist a client, in conduct that the investigator knows is criminal or fraudulent. An investigator, however, may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may advise a client to seek legal counsel for assistance in making a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.
(4) When an investigator knows that a client expects assistance prohibited by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law, the investigator shall consult with the client regarding the relevant limitations of the investigator’s lawful conduct.
SECTION 48. An investigator shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
SECTION 49. (1) An investigator shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with a reasonable request for information.
(2) The investigator shall give the client sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives or the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued, to the extent the client is willing and able to do so.
SECTION 50. (1) An investigator shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client consents after consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, and except as stated in subsection (2).
(2) An investigator may reveal such information to the extent the investigator reasonably believes necessary:
(a) To prevent the client from committing a criminal act that the investigator believes is likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm; or
(b) To establish a claim or defense on behalf of the investigator in a controversy between the investigator and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the investigator based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the investigator’s representation of the client.
SECTION 51. Loyalty is an essential element in the investigator’s relationship to a client. Therefore:
(a) An investigator shall not represent a client if the representation of that client will be directly adverse to the representations of another client, unless:
(i) The investigator reasonably believes the representation will not adversely affect the relationship with the other client; and
(ii) Each client consents after consultation.
(b) An investigator shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited by the investigator's responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the investigator's own interest, unless:
(i) The investigator reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and
(ii) The client consents after consultation. When representation of multiple clients in a single matter is undertaken, the consultation shall include explanation of the implications of the common representation and the disadvantages and risks involved.
SECTION 52. As a general principle, all transactions between client and investigators should be fair and reasonable to the client. Furthermore, an investigator may not exploit the representation of a client or information relating to the representation to the client’s disadvantage. Examples of violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) An investigator shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or other pecuniary interest adverse to a client unless:
(i) The transaction and terms on which the investigator acquires the interest are fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and transmitted in writing to the client in a manner which can be reasonably understood by the client;
(ii) The client is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent counsel in the transactions; and
(iii) The client consents in writing thereto;
(b) An investigator shall not use information relating to representation of a client to the disadvantage of the client unless the client consents after consultation.
SECTION 53. An investigator who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:
(a) Represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client consents after consultation; or
(b) Use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except when the information derived from independent sources has become generally known.
SECTION 54. (1) Upon initial contact from a private citizen, a contract may be offered on all matters.
(2) The contract shall contain, but may not be limited to, the following information:
(a) Name, address and phone number of investigative agency;
(b) Name, address and phone number of private investigator responsible for case work;
(c) Schedule of fees to be charged;
(d) Purpose and scope of investigation;
(e) Limitations of responsibility to investigative agency;
(f) Limitations of responsibility to client;
(g) Signature of client;
(h) Signature of two (2) witnesses;
(i) Date agreement was signed; and
(j) Contracts shall be made in duplicate:
(i) One (1) copy for the client;
(ii) One (1) copy shall be retained in the investigative case file for a period of three (3) years.
SECTION 55. The use of a private investigator badge shall be optional. Should the investigator choose to carry a badge and display it, he or she shall be obligated to identify himself or herself as a private investigator at such times as the badge is displayed.
SECTION 56. A request for a hearing on a complaint before the Board of Private Investigator Examiners shall contain the following:
(a) The full name, address and telephone number of the person requesting the hearing;
(b) The full name, address and telephone number of any person whose interest could be affected by the hearing;
(c) A plain and concise statement of the complaint;
(d) A receipt showing a copy of the complaint has been sent to the person or a statement from the executive director stating that a copy of said complaint had been delivered to the person named in the complaint;
(e) All complaints or requests for a hearing before the Private Investigator Examiners Board must be made by certified or registered mail to the executive director or the PI board.
SECTION 57. In the course of representing a client, an investigator shall not knowingly:
(a) Make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or
(b) Fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is otherwise prohibited by this act.
SECTION 58. It is professional misconduct for an investigator to:
(a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or to knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) Commit a criminal act or any other act that reflects adversely on the investigator’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as an investigator in other respects;
(c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) Except upon the expressed assertion of a constitutional privilege, to fail to cooperate with the Ethics Committee in its investigation of alleged misconduct, or
(e) Threaten to file criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.
SECTION 59. An investigative agency must apply and pay all occupational fees required to conduct business in the jurisdiction which he or she is to conduct business.
SECTION 60. Any licensed private investigator may voluntarily inform the board by mail of a substance abuse problem without adverse action taken by the board. In doing so, the private investigator is subject to the board's recommendation to enter a substance abuse facility, and upon completion of successful treatment, shall furnish proof of completion from said facility. Failure to successfully complete a substance abuse program will subject the investigator to disciplinary action by the board.
SECTION 61. (1) An investigator shall, when advertising years of experience, clearly state the actual years of experience within the private investigative industry.
(2) When advertising years of experience in the private investigative industry, the ad must indicate if it is a total number of years for one (1) certain investigator or a combined total of all investigators.
(3) An investigator shall, prior to advertising a certification designation furnish the Board of Private Investigators with a copy of their certificate and the certificate number.
(4) When using the term certification in advertising, the certified investigator’s name must accompany the designation.
SECTION 62. These rules govern the board's imitation, consideration and adjudication of administrative complaints providing cause under law for denial, modification, suspension or revocation of a license, imposition of probation on, or other disciplinary action against any person requesting or holding a license, permit, certification or registration issued by the board or any applicant therefor.
SECTION 63. (1) Proceedings to adjudicate an administrative enforcement action shall be initiated by the filing of a written complaint with the board. It shall be signed by a member of the board appointed and designated by it as investigatory officer with respect to the subject matter of the complaint. The accused licensee shall be named as respondent in the proceedings.
(2) The complaint shall set forth, in separately numbered paragraphs, a concise statement of the material facts and matters alleged and to be proven by the investigating officer including the facts giving rise to the board's jurisdiction over respondent, the facts constituting legal cause for the administrative action, and the statutory, regulatory or other provision alleged to have been violated by the respondent. The complaint shall conclude with a request for the administrative sanction or other relief sought by the investigating officer and shall bear the name, address and telephone number of counsel engaged by the board to present the case at evidentiary hearing before the board.
SECTION 64. (1) Upon the filing of an administrative complaint under Section 56, the board shall docket the complaint and schedule it for hearing before the board not less than forty-five (45) days nor more than one hundred eighty (180) days thereafter. For good cause, the time may be lengthened or shortened as the board determines may be necessary or appropriate to protect the public interest or upon the motion of the investigating officer of respondent. In the event that the respondent’s license, permit, certification or registration has been suspended by the board pending hearing, under Section 21, evidentiary hearing on the complaint shall be noticed and scheduled not more than forty-five (45) days after the filing of the complaint.
(2) A written notice of the complaint and the time, date and place of the scheduled hearing thereon shall be served upon the respondent by registered, return receipt requested mail, as well as by regular first class mail at the most current address for the respondent as reflected in the official records of the board or by personal delivery of the complaint to the respondent. The date of service shall be the day of personal service or the third business day after the date of posting the registered or certified notice. The notice shall include a statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be conducted and shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the administrative complaint.
SECTION 65. (1) Within fifteen (15) days of service of the complaint or such longer time as the board, on motion of the respondent, may permit, the respondent may answer the complaint admitting or denying each of the separate allegations of fact and of law set forth therein. Any matter admitted by respondent shall be deemed proven and established for purposes of adjudication. In the event that the respondent does not file a response to the complaint, all allegations therein asserted shall be deemed denied.
(2) Any respondent may be represented in an adjudication proceeding before the board by an attorney at law duly admitted to practice in this state. Upon receipt of service of a complaint pursuant, or thereafter, a respondent who is represented by legal counsel with respect to the proceeding shall, personally or through such counsel, give written notice to the board of the name, address and telephone number of such counsel. Following receipt of proper notice of representation, any further notice, complaint, subpoena, order or other process related to the proceeding shall be served on the respondent through his or her designated counsel of record.
SECTION 66. (1) Any pleading, motion or other paper permitted or required to be filed with the board in connection with a pending adjudication proceeding shall be filed by personal delivery at or by mail to the office of the board. Any such writing shall likewise be concurrently served upon complaint counsel, if filed by or on behalf of respondent, or upon respondent, through counsel of record, if any, if filed by complaint counsel.
(2) All such pleadings, motion or other papers shall be submitted on plain white letter-size (eight and one-half (8-1/2) inches by eleven (11) inches) bond, with margins of at least one (1) inch on all sides and text double spaced except as to quotations and other matter customarily single spaced. Such documents shall bear the caption and docket number of the case and shall include the certificate of the attorney or person making the filing that service of a copy has been effected in the manner prescribed by subsection 1 of this section.
(3) The board may refuse to accept for filing any pleading, motion or other paper not conforming to the requirements of this section.
SECTION 67. Motions for continuance of any hearing, for dismissal of the proceeding and all other prehearing motions shall be filed not later than thirty (30) days following service of the complaint on the respondent or fifteen (15) days prior to the hearing, whichever is earlier. Each prehearing motion shall be accompanied by a memorandum which shall set forth a concise statement of the grounds upon which the relief sought is based and the legal authority therefor. A motion may be accompanied by an affidavit as necessary to establish facts alleged in support of the motion. Within ten (10) days of the filing of any such motion and memorandum or such shorter time as the board may order, the investigating officer, through complaint counsel, may file a memorandum in opposition to or otherwise setting forth the investigating officer’s position with respect to the motion.
SECTION 68. (1) A motion for continuance of hearing shall be filed within the delay prescribed by Section 67 of this act, provided that the board may accept the filing of a motion for continuance at any time before a hearing upon a showing of good cause not discoverable within the time otherwise provided for the filing of a prehearing motion.
(2) A scheduled hearing may be continued by the board only upon a showing by respondent or complaint counsel that there are substantial legitimate grounds that the hearing should be continued, balancing the right of respondent to a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present a defense to the complaint and the board's responsibility to protect the public health, welfare and safety. Except in extraordinary circumstances evidenced by verified motion or accompanying affidavit, the board will not ordinarily grant a motion to continue a hearing that has been previously continued upon motion of the same party.
(3) If an initial motion for continuance is not opposed, it may be granted by the executive director. Any motion for continuance of hearing which is opposed shall be referred for decision to the presiding officer of the hearing panel designated with respect to the proceeding, who shall rule upon such motion on the papers filed, without hearing. The presiding officer, in his discretion, may refer any motion for continuance to the entire panel for disposition, and any party aggrieved by the decision of a presiding officer on a motion for continuance may request that the motion be reconsidered by the entire panel. In any such case, the panel shall rule on such motion on the papers filed, without hearing.
SECTION 69. (1) Upon request of the respondent or complaint counsel and in compliance with the requirements of this section, the executive director shall sign and issue subpoenas in the name of the board requiring the attendance and giving of testimony by a witness and the production of books, papers and other documentary evidence at an adjudication hearing.
(2) No subpoena shall be issued unless and until the party who wishes to subpoena the witness first deposits with the board a sum of money sufficient to pay all fees and expenses to which a witness in a civil case is entitled. Witnesses subpoenaed to testify before the board only to an opinion founded on special study or experience in any branch of science, or to make scientific or professional examinations and to state the results thereof, shall receive such additional compensation from the party who wishes to subpoena such witnesses as may be fixed by the board with reference to the value of the time employed and the degree or skill required.
SECTION 70. (1) Unless otherwise requested by the respondent, the adjudication hearing shall be conducted in closed session.
(2) At an adjudication hearing, opportunity shall be afforded to complaint counsel and respondent to present evidence on any issue of fact and argument on any issue of law and policy involved, to call, examine and cross-examine any witness and to offer and introduce documentary evidence and any exhibit required for a full and true disclosure of the facts and disposition of the complaint.
(3) Unless stipulation is made between the parties, and approved by the hearing panel, providing for other means of recordation, all testimony and other proceedings of an adjudication shall be recorded by a certified stenographer who shall be retained by the board to prepare a written transcript of such proceedings.
(4) During evidentiary hearing, the presiding officer shall rule upon any evidentiary objection and other procedure question, but in his discretion may consult with the entire panel in executive session. At any hearing, the board may be assisted by legal counsel, retained by the board for such purpose, who is independent of complaint counsel and who has not participated in the investigation or prosecution of the case. If the board or panel is attended by such counsel, the presiding officer may delegate to such counsel ruling on any evidentiary objection and other procedural issue raised during the hearing.
(5) The record in a case of adjudication shall include:
(a) The administrative complaint and notice of hearing, respondent’s response to the complaint, if any, subpoenas issued in connection with discovery in the case or hearing of the adjudication, and all pleadings, motions and intermediate rulings;
(b) Evidence received or considered at the hearing;
(c) A statement of matters officially noticed except matters so obvious that statement of them would serve no useful purpose;
(d) Offers of proof, objections and rulings thereon;
(e) Proposed findings and exceptions, if any;
(f) The decision, opinion, report or other disposition of the case made by the board.
(6) Findings of fact shall be based exclusively on the evidence and on matters officially noticed.
SECTION 71. (1) In an adjudication hearing, the board or the designated hearing panel thereof, may give probative effect to evidence which possesses probative value commonly accepted by reasonably prudent men in conduct of their affairs. Effect shall be given to the rules of privilege recognized by law. The board or panel may exclude incompetent, irrelevant, immaterial and unduly repetitious evidence. Objections to evidentiary offers may be made and shall be noted in the record. Subject to these requirements, when a hearing will be expedited and the interests of the parties will not be prejudiced substantially, any part of the evidence may be received in written form.
(2) All evidence, including records and documents in the possession of the board which complaint counsel desires the board to consider, shall be offered and made part of the record, and all such documentary evidence may be received in the form of copies or excerpts, or by incorporation by reference. In case of incorporation by reference, the materials so incorporated shall be available for examination by the respondent before being received in evidence.
(3) Notice may be taken of judicially cognizable facts and of generally recognized technical or scientific facts within the board’s knowledge. Parties shall be notified either before or during the hearing of the material noticed or sought by a party to be noticed and they shall be afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed. The board's experience, technical competence and knowledge may be utilized in the evaluation of the evidence.
(4) Any member of the board serving as presiding officer in an adjudication hearing shall have the power to and shall administer oaths or affirmations to all witnesses appearing to give testimony, shall regulate the course of the hearing, set the time and place for continued hearings, fix the time for the filing of briefs and other documents, if they are required or requested, and may direct the parties to appear and confer to consider simplification of the issues.
(5) Except as otherwise governed by the provisions of these rules, adjudication hearings before the board shall be governed by the Mississippi Code of Evidence, insofar as the same may be applied.
SECTION 72. The board may make informal disposition, by default, consent order, agreement, settlement, or otherwise, of any adjudication pending before it.
SECTION 73. (1) The final decision of the board in an adjudication proceeding shall, if adverse to the respondent, be in writing and shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law. It shall be signed by the presiding officer of the hearing panel on behalf and in the name of the board.
(2) Upon issuance of a final decision, a certified copy thereof shall promptly be served upon respondent's counsel of record, or upon respondent personally in absence of counsel, in the same manner of service prescribed with respect to service of complaints.
SECTION 74. (1) A decision by the board in a case of adjudication shall be subject to rehearing, reopening or reconsideration by the board pursuant to written motion filed with the board within ten (10) days from service of the decision on respondent. A motion for rehearing, reopening or reconsideration shall be made and served in the form and manner prescribed by Section 66 above and shall set forth the grounds upon which such motion is based.
(2) The board may grant rehearing, reopening or reconsideration if it is shown that:
(a) The decision is clearly contrary to law and the evidence;
(b) The respondent has discovered since the hearing evidence important to the issues which he or she could not have with due diligence obtained before or during the hearing;
(c) Other issues not previously considered ought to be examined in order properly to dispose of the matter; or
(d) There exists other good grounds for further consideration of the issues and the evidence in the public interest.
SECTION 75. (1) The executive director of the board shall transmit notice of all final license revocations and suspensions to the licensing agency of every other jurisdiction in which the respondent is licensed.
(2) Public notice of discipline imposed. The executive director of the board shall cause notices of all final license suspensions and revocations to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in each parish in which the private investigator maintained an office.
(3) The notice shall:
(a) State the statute or rule or regulation found to have been violated and which resulted in the suspension or revocation;
(b) State the penalty imposed for the violation; and
(c) Request members of the public to notify the board if the disciplined individual is operating as a private investigator without a license.
(4) These publication requirements are mandatory and will not be waived.
SECTION 76. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.