Texas Licensing Requirements
The State of Texas requires that investigators are licensed. The licensing agency is the Department of Public Safety or DPS. Operating without a license in the State of Texas is a crime that includes penalites that include prison time and significant fines. The rules that regulate investigators are conducted by the DPS and are actively enforced. It is important that the investigator be able to produce the company and investigator license upon request.
The following is taken from the Texas DPS:
“The Private Security Act construes an investigator as one who obtains information related to the “identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, efficiency, loyalty, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person; the location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property; the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property; or for the purpose of securing evidence for use in court.” Tex. Occ. Code §1702.104. Consequently, we would conclude that the provider of computer forensic services must be licensed as an investigator, insofar as the service involves the analysis of the data for the purposes described above.
With respect to the statutory reference to “securing evidence for use in court,” we would suggest that the mere accumulation of data, or even the organization and cataloging of data for discovery purposes, is not a regulated service. Rather, in this context, the Bureau would interpret the reference to “evidence” as referring to the report of the computer forensic examiner, not the data itself. The acquisition of the data, for evidentiary purposes, precedes the analysis by the computer forensic examiner, insofar as it is raw and unanalyzed.  The mere collection and organization of the evidence into a form that can be reviewed and analyzed by others is not the “securing of evidence” contemplated by the statute.”
If your case goes to court, either in civil or criminal cases, you can assume that the first question will be “who gathered the evidence.” If the answer is an unlicensed person operating outside the law and defector committing a felony, it is possible that it could hurt your case.
Are they local?
The process of imaging an electronic device can take time. Are the field investigators gathering the information after hours? Is the device a cell phone that must be returned to the target quickly. Different types of devices require unique equipment to extract the required information.
If your provider has to travel from out of town they may not have what they need to complete the project. They may also be in violation of Texas law by not operating with the required license in the State of Texas. Asking this question can save you time and money.
Do they have their own lab?
If possible, it is optimal that the forensic imaging is completed in a lab. It is important that the lab can handle evidence in a sound and forensically defensible manner. How is the information stored, what is the security at the lab, and can the lab show the proper documentation for forensic handling.
Are they accredited?
Are the forensic “experts” truly “experts” and do they have certifications by recognized organizations that prove their standing in the professional community. If the case goes to court, will their experience hold up under examination.
Are the experienced?
Have the investigators provided services in scores of cases? Can they provide references for cases in which their work was useful. Again, this experience will become critical in the case goes to court. Can they site the cases that they have been involved with.