479-235-HELP (4357) ts@arkansas-investigations.com

frequently asked investigation questions

Sterling Investigations provides a wide range of investigation services, experiences, and training required by legal professionals, businesses or individuals anywhere in the state of Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Located in the heart of Memphis, we are within easy reach of any customer who needs our services. We are one of the only agencies in Tennessee to staff two Certified Fraud Examiners.


What's the difference between a "legal investigator" and a "private investigator"?

We adhere to the standards of The National Association of Legal InvestigatorsTM. On their website they offer the following description of a “legal investigator”: “Legal investigators are licensed private investigators or law firm staff investigators who specialize in preparing cases for trial for attorneys. Their job is to gather information and evidence which advance legal theories to benefit the client’s case. The legal investigator must possess knowledge of statutory and case law, local rules of court, civil procedure, forensic sciences, techniques of evidence collection, and its preservation and admissibility.

Legal investigators assist attorneys by reviewing police reports and discovery materials, analyzing and photographing crime or accident scenes, interviewing parties and witnesses, performing background investigations, preparing documentary and demonstrative evidence, recommending experts, and testifying in court. Legal investigators must exhibit the highest standards or professional and ethical conduct.”

(From the National Association of Legal InvestigatorsTM website at www.nalionline.org,”Legal Investigator Defined”.)

“Although many of the tasks that a person knowledgeable of legal investigations can be done by a private investigator, the legal investigator has a more refined knowledge and experiences of what is necessary in the legal community.”

Can you really find someone? How?

Yes, we can. We’ve had some pretty remarkable cases with really good results. Finding someone is not a science, it’s an art. Our staff has a unique ability to find small, seemingly inconsequential bits of information and put them together into a bigger picture. Every case is different and the methods we use are closely guarded. We never rely on one method and we use the “Check, recheck and then verify” principle. We access over 23 different databases that are designed specifically to find people, and we access data that’s not available to you on the internet. We use a variety of tools, including: proprietary databases, subscription services, cell phone records, locating people who have new (or recently changed) cell phones, cell phone data analysis, and many sources which may not have occurred to you.

How long does an investigation take?
All assignments are completed as quickly as possible, with the understanding that our attorney-clients operate under closely determined schedules for hearings, depositions, filing deadlines, and mediations. Each case is unique and requires a different strategy for completion.  For instance, witness interviews are often dependent upon the availability and schedule of the witness(es); documents may not be immediately or locally available; collision or crime scenes may have altered over time. Therefore, turnaround time is frequently determined by factors not always within our control. We are flexible enough to be able to work cases on short notice. Every case has its own issues and sometimes being limited on time is one of them. Give us a call and we will figure out a way to help. Regardless, all assignments are initiated on receipt. We strive for prompt completion of our cases and will do our very best to insure you get the quality responses you deserve.

Clients are updated with interim reports, e-mails, and telephone calls, as necessary. Attorneys are encouraged to contact our office or our field investigators at any time they have a question or new information. Our investigators are encouraged to contact the client from the field when new and important information is developed.

Does a single investigator do everything?
No. While there is one primary investigator assigned for each case, we work as a team. Each of our experienced staff members fulfills a specific role in our organization to provide complete coverage and timely service to our attorney-clients. For instance, while a field investigator conducts interviews and locates witnesses, our researcher obtains court documents from out-of-state jurisdictions or police reports from a local municipality. Sterling Investigations delivers a level of service not offered by the “lone private eye,” or by the majority of small investigative agencies running a more generalized business.
Does your agency serve process or do surveillance?
We do both. We provide a wide range of services. Even with that wide range of capabilities, we insure that each client receives our undivided attention. We expect to be your ‘one stop’ investigative service center. We don’t specialize in only one or two areas because we feel that our ability to provide a variety of services allows you to have the ability to get continued, quality services from one provider: us. We do many things well and if we don’t do them, we can find someone who does. For instance, we don’t generally serve process unless it’s considered a ‘difficult serve’.  Most process servers won’t sit and wait for extended periods to watch for a person in order to serve paper.  We do a lot of surveillance work sitting for long hours and blending into the area.  If you have a service that requires us to hunt down and locate a person that you MUST serve, then we are the people for you. Whether for business intelligence purposes, infidelity investigations, child custody cases, asset searches or any other reason you might have for covert surveillances, we are the people for you. We have a large array of covert video and photographic devices, body cameras, disguised cameras and other recording devices, vehicles, vans, and all sorts of other equipment used for these purposes. We’re proud of the results we get.
How do I get in touch with you?

See Contact Us for our phone and office address. We are available 24-hours-a day and can be reached by phone at any hour. Each staff member has an individual e-mail address. Our investigators have cell phones and can be immediately available. We know this is unusual but we feel that if there is a question in your mind that is bothering you late at night, then it’s important enough for us to answer.

Do you work directly for an attorney or for the client?
It depends. We do both. Some situations make it tactically better that we are hired by and work directly for the attorney. That overcomes some issues with ‘work papers’. Other times that protection may not be needed or maybe the client came to us first and we referred them to the attorney. We try to discuss the merits of each position before we formalize any relationship.
Do you find assets that someone is trying to hide?
Absolutely.  Our staff is trained to focus on finding hidden assets and hidden financial information. Sometimes, this requires additional skills such as surveillance. Sometimes this can be of benefit in business-related investigations and sometime in marital investigations. We’ve also helped businesses who want to know if a company is solvent before they make a merger approach or if you are trying to collect on a judgment.
What kind of background investigations do you conduct?
Our background investigations cover a wide range of services. It really depends on your definition of ‘background investigation”. You might be trying to find out about that guy/gal you just started dating. To some people they simply want to know if someone else has ever been arrested. Or it might be to uncover financial irregularities. Some cases are in preparation for child custody court cases and they require a different approach. Some cases might mean complete verification of an employment application and resume. Still others require that we go and physically talk to acquaintances, neighbors, former employers, business references and anyone else who has ever known them. We recommend you call us and explain what you are looking for and what your goals are so that we can better match our services with your needs.
What is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)?
Certified Fraud Examiners are financial investigators trained to detect and prevent fraud.  The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFESM) awards the CFE® designation to individuals who complete a rigorous curriculum and pass a challenging examination that can take several months to complete. Fraud examiners help businesses protect themselves by uncovering unscrupulous employees, executives, or vendors who take advantage of inadequate company controls for their own gain.
Can you guarantee you will get results?
Absolutely not. We never guarantee any kind of results. Our motto is “We Find AnswersTM” but we don’t ‘create’ answers. We will give 110% effort to get you the information you want and need and we’ll do everything in our power to help your case. We just can’t promise anything.
I don’t want anyone to find out that I hired an investigator. How do you handle this?
We are very concerned about your privacy and the confidentiality of your case so we do everything we can to protect that privacy. It’s rare that anyone knows that we’re involved. The last time it happened it was the angry client that told his estranged wife that he hired us. Nothing we could do about that problem, but we still got him the evidence he needed. We don’t reveal our association with you. Our efforts are between us. We don’t disclose private information or even who our client is to anyone.
How are you paid?
We prefer to be paid directly by the client but we are willing to discuss alternative arrangements, such as payment by the attorney. We do require a retainer at the start of our services.


What are your fees?
    • We do not charge for initial consultations.
    • Each case is unique. As such, our total fees vary case by case.
    • All investigative services are estimated based on the facts and circumstances of your case. We don’t guarantee or quote exact pricing because we have found that most cases change at some point during the process. We have found that our estimates are generally within 10% (plus or minus) of the eventual price. Please call for details.
Tennessee investigators

479-235-HELP (4357)

1 W. Mountain St #201

Fayetteville, AR  72701

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Sterling Investigations is a partnership of Arkansas Investigations.