What Does It Cost to Hire a Private Investigator to Investigate Murder/Homicide?


Crime scene private investigator photographing a crime scene
Investigating a Murder or Homicide is Technical

I saw a question today and I thought it was really good. They asked what is the cost for a private investigator to investigate a murder. So let’s discuss that from an actual private investigator who has investigated murder.


What is the cost to hire a private investigator to investigate murder? The cost of investigating a homicide or a murder will vary depending on many factors. Usually a retainer of $2,500-5,000 is required to begin. Homicide/murder investigations are complex and have many moving parts. For example, look at the picture and you will see a crime scene investigator, usually working for a law enforcement agency, meticulously photographing and cataloging a crime scene. This is just the beginning. A private investigator will charge anywhere from $125-250 per hour to work on a homicide/murder investigation.


What Is Homicide and Murder And How Much for PI to Investigate a Homicide or Murder?

Let’s talk a bit about some differences. Homicide is different from murder, yet murder is a part of homicide. Let me explain the definitions as it is important to distinguish between the two. Perhaps not so much so for the private investigator— and there isn’t really a cost difference when you hire a detective, but more importantly these are understandably often confused.


What Is Murder?

There are all kinds of considerations when it comes to defining murder. Most of us understand that murder is when you kill someone. But, as you probably know, murder has levels, and here are a few:


  • First-degree murder

  • Felony first-degree murder

  • Second-degree murder

  • Fetal murder

  • Attempted murder

  • Manslaughter

So what is murder? It is best defined by local Penal Codes, and for the sake of this article I will use California Penal Code 187:


(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

(b)This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:


(1)The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code.

Gun pointed what is murder private investigator answers
Murder is killing with malice


(2)The act was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not.