The Law Offices of John Phebus

Police may have engaged in illegal wiretapping operation

Arizona residents might be interested in a wiretapping operation that is being investigated for breaking federal law. Law enforcement officers in a single Los Angeles suburb were reportedly behind one out of five wiretaps in the United States in 2014. While authorization for wiretaps is not supposed to be easy for police to obtain, federal drug investigators in Riverside County listened in on the phone conversations of 52,000 people since the middle of 2013.

The 738 wiretaps that were approved in Riverside County led to at least 300 arrests. Some of the arrests were made by federal drug agents in other states such as Virginia and Kentucky. Wiretap applications are secret, which makes it difficult to determine how often the evidence was approved by lawyers.

According to an investigation into the California wiretapping operation, the district attorney in Riverside County did not review all of the wiretap applications as the law requires. In two separate interviews, the district attorney admitted that he did not review or authorize the applications. Instead, he delegated the task to an assistant whose signature can be seen on almost all of the wiretap applications from Riverside County.

A person facing drug charges stemming an undercover investigation may be able to have some evidence suppressed from the court record. A criminal defense attorney may help an individual in this situation to determine whether investigators obtained information from unauthorized wiretaps or other illegal means. If much of the evidence that is being used against a defendant was gathered illegally, the prosecution's case may not stand up to a legal challenge.

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