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What you should know about wiretap cases

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2020 | Firm News |

Did law enforcement arrest you after wiretapping your phone? With this type of device, the police can review your GPS location data, obtain emails and text messages and even listen in on your calls. Not only is this a violation of your privacy, but it also affects friends, family members and colleagues with whom you communicate. 

Improper wiretapping can often facilitate a successful defense in this type of court case. 

Applicable wiretapping laws 

Wiretapping requires much more due diligence by law enforcement than needed for a simple search warrant. Despite these hurdles, more state and local police departments use this method to gather evidence for white-collar investigations. Often, the police violate wiretapping laws by failing to obtain proof that the wiretap is a necessary investigative step and/or failing to obtain probable cause that you have used the electronic device in question to commit a previous crime and/or will do so in the future. 

Wiretapping process 

Law enforcement may not place a tap on your phone without a wiretap order, which is similar to a search warrant. To obtain this order, they must demonstrate that doing so will help them solve a case involving terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking or another serious crime. A wiretap order should be time limited. The police cannot have indefinite access to your phone. Also, the law prohibits access to and recording of conversations that are unlikely to produce evidence. 

GPS location data 

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that simply using a cell phone that tracks your GPS data does not forfeit your 4th Amendment right to privacy. To legally gather GPS data from your smartphone, law enforcement must obtain another order that is separate from the wiretapping order. 

The use of wiretapping in criminal cases raises significant privacy concerns. Police departments and courts with little experience in this area are more likely to cause or miss procedural irregularities that may affect your conviction.