Last Updated: December 21, 2022. Report error / Make suggestion

Initial Application Requirements

  • Who/What Agency governs or oversees the profession?
    • Department of Licensing
  • What are the background check requirements?
    • The application itself may ask for any information and documentation that reasonably relates to the need to determine whether you meet the criteria for the job
    • You must also submit a set of fingerprints
      • Fingerprints are provided to WSP for them to be compared to fingerprint records available to WSP
      • The director may also require periodic fingerprinting to identify criminal convictions subsequent to registration
        • *If you were previously issued a license as a private security guard under RCW 18.170 within the last 12 months, you do not need to undergo a separate background check
    • The director will ask for comments on your application from the chief law enforcement officer of the county and city/town where your employer is located
    • If you are seeking an armed private investigator license you will also require the following:
      • Firearms certificate issued by the criminal justice training commission
      • License to carry a concealed pistol
  • Are there any convictions that will automatically disqualify me?
    • Your application may be denied if you have been convicted of a crime in any jurisdiction that the DOL determines to be directly related to the your capacity to perform the duties of a private investigator and that withholding of a license should be done to protect the citizens of Washington State
  • Do Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROPs) apply to the position?
    • No, a CROP does not apply to private investigators under RCW chapter 18.165.

License Suspension/Revocation

  • Why might my license be suspended or terminated?
    • Similar to other professions, your license can be suspended or terminated based upon a finding of unprofessional conduct or an inability to practice with reasonable skill and safety
  • Actions that may deemed as unprofessional conduct include, but are not limited to:       
    • Making material misstatement or omission in the application for a firearms certificate
    • Failing to return immediately on demand a firearm or company badge issued by the employer
    • Carrying a firearm in the performance of a person’s duties without a valid armed private investigator license
    • Making any statement that would reasonably cause another person to believe that the private investigator is a sworn peace officer
    • Divulging confidential information obtained in court of investigation
    • Acceptance of employment that is adverse to a client or former client
    • Assisting a client in locating individuals when the investigator knows the client is prohibited from contacting a person as a result of a court order
    • Failure to maintain bond or insurance
    • Failure to have a qualifying principal in place
    • Being certified as not in compliance with a child support order
  • How does the DOL learn about potential grounds for suspension?
    • Individuals, licensees, organization, and government agencies may submit a written complaint to the DOL regarding a license holder alleging unprofessional or unlawful conduct
      • If the director determines the complaint warrants follow-up, the director will initiate an investigation to determine the truth of the allegations
    • If the director believes a license holder may be unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety because of any mental or physical condition, the director may serve the licensee with a statement of charges.
  • How do I find out about a denial, suspension or termination?
    • If the DOL determines after an investigation that there is reason to believe you have committed unprofessional conduct, that you may be unable to practice with reasonable skill or safety, or that you do not meet the minimum eligibility criteria for licensure:
      • The DOL will serve you with a notice of the charges or denial along with a notice of your right to contest the DOL’s finding.
      • If your ability to practice has been questioned, the DOL may also request to submit a mental/physical examination to assist with the director’s determination
        • Failure to comply with this request when directed constitutes grounds for immediate license suspension and the entering of a default final order
  • How do I ask for a hearing?
    • You must file a request for a hearing with the DOL within 20 days after being served a statement of charges or statement of intent to deny you a license. Failure to request a hearing is considered a default and the DOL may then enter a decision on the facts available. RCW 18.235.050
      • If you request a hearing, the disciplinary authority will set a hearing no earlier than 30 days after the service of charge(s). A hearing may be held sooner than this only if the disciplinary authority has issued a summary suspension or summary restriction.
        • A summary suspension or restriction occurs due to a temporary and emergency ruling pending a full hearing addressing the allegations. This is often made when there is a finding that suspension is necessary to protect the public’s health and safety.

Hearing Process

  • When will the hearing be and who will oversee it?
    • The Administrative Procedures Act, RCW 34.05, governs all hearings including denial of licensure, unprofessional conduct, and inability to practice.
    • Once you request a hearing, the DOL will set a hearing to be held within 90 days of the receipt of your request.
      • The DOL must give you at least 7 days advance notice.
    • The hearing will be conducted by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings
  • The process for hearing, what to expect, and what to prepare can be found by following the link below:
  • What do I have to prove at the hearing to succeed?
    • You will have the burden of proving that it is more likely than not that you are either a.) qualified under DOL rules and regulations, b.) have not committed unprofessional conduct, or c.) have not committed unethical and deficient practices
  • Is there an appeals process if I don’t agree with the final order?  If so, what does that look like?
  • Yes. The process is outlined by the Administrative Procedures Act RCW 34.05
    • First, you may file a petition for reconsideration of a final order. This can be done within 10 days of the service of the final order.
      • This is an administrative review of the previous ruling.  The hearing officer may decide to grant your petition, deny your petition, modify the previous order, or set the matter for a new hearing.
    • You can also petition the superior court for review. This must be done within 30 days of notice of the final order.
      • The petition must be filed with the Superior Court for either a.) Thurston County, or b.) the county where you live.  You must also pay a $250 filing fee.
      • You are not required to petition for reconsideration before seeking review in court.
        • However, if you do file a petition for reconsideration first, then the 30 day time limit for filing with the court does not begin to run until after the petition for reconsideration is resolved.
      • You cannot seek judicial review until you have exhausted all administrative remedies unless you fall into one of three exceptions. RCW 34.05.534.
      • When reviewing your case, the Court can only consider the evidence admitted and facts established during the first administrative hearing.
      • You can request that the Court stay your suspension while the judicial review is pending, but the Court will only grant a stay if it finds that 1.) you are likely to win your appeal, 2.) you will be irreparably harmed without a stay, 3.) the stay will not cause harm to the other party, and 4.) there is not a serious threat to public health or safety.
    • If you still disagree with the decision following review by the Superior Court, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals.

What is the range of sanctions?

  • Revocation of your license
  • Suspension of your license for a fixed or indefinite term
  • Restriction or limitation of your practice
  • Requiring satisfactory completion of a specific program of remedial education or treatment
  • Monitoring of your practice by a supervisor approved by the directorCensure or reprimandConditions of probation
  • Withholding your license request
  • Refund of fees billed to and collected from clients
  • Assessing administrative penalties
    • Prior to determining the sanction for unprofessional conduct, the DOL must first consider what sanctions are necessary to protect the public health, safety or welfare. Only after that may the DOL include sanctions designed to rehabilitate you.
  • Post hearing, what are the options for reinstatement?
    • After having your license suspended or revoked, you may petition the DOL for reinstatement after an amount of time and under specific conditions that are included within the original order suspending or revoking the license. RCW 18.235.100.

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