Individuals in Missouri may be interested to learn that hundreds of wiretaps used throughout the United States may have been illegal. This means that the evidence obtained in those cases could be inadmissible in court.
The allegedly illegal wiretaps originated in Riverside County, California. Nearly 20 percent of wiretaps in the United States in 2014 were approved there. As a result of the wiretaps, hundreds of people were arrested and a significant amount of drugs and cash were seized. However, according to federal law, a top prosecutor must authorize a wiretap request. In Riverside County, the job was done by lower-level attorneys. The county illegally approved as many as 738 wiretaps, and the district attorney said that he delegated the job and did not have time to approve the wiretaps himself.
Federal law on this issue dates back to the 1960s, but it was reaffirmed in court cases in 1974 and 2013. In both of those cases, evidence was thrown out because wiretaps were not approved by the correct person. In the 2013 case, it was a deputy district attorney who did so, but this was not considered sufficient. One attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union has said that everyone who was wiretapped illegally should be notified even if they were not detained as a result of the surveillance.
As this case demonstrates, sometimes cases are built on evidence that is obtained illegally. There are laws governing how people’s homes can be searched, how people can be detained and what their rights are when questioned by investigators. If at any point an individual’s rights are violated or the law is not observed, the evidence obtained may be dismissed. Individuals who are facing accusations ranging from drunk driving to more serious charges may wish to discuss whether their rights were violated with an attorney.