Can Unlicensed Private Detective Testify As to the Cause of a Fire ?

Under the Private Detective Act, anyone who investigates the causes and origins of fires must be licensed under the statute. 225 ILCS 446/15(a) (West 2002). In People v. West, 264 Ill. App. 3d 176, 184, 636 N.E.2d 1239, 201 Ill. Dec. 807 (1994), the court held that the Private Detective Act barred an unlicensed person from testifying as an expert as to the cause and origin of a fire because his investigation was conducted in contravention of the statute and, thus, the trial court erred in allowing his testimony at trial. The licensing requirement of the Private Detective Act contains an exception for persons licensed by the state to practice professional engineering. 225 ILCS 446/30(a)(1)(M) (West 2002). The Professional Engineering Practice Act of 1989 defines a "professional engineer" as a person licensed under the laws of the State of Illinois to practice "professional engineering." 225 ILCS 325/4(m) (West 2002).