This week on the Writer's Detective Bureau, recorded in a wire tap, what gets kept as evidence and counter surveillance techniques. I'm Adam Richardson, and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau.
Welcome to episode number 81 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction. And this week I'm answering your questions about whether a wiretap investigation has to target a specific person, and how you find out if you've been recorded as part of a wiretap investigation. I'm also talking about what items get kept as evidence and what property gets returned to a victim. And lastly, I'll be talking about counter surveillance techniques that you, I mean your characters, can use to see if you're, I mean they, are being followed.
But first I need to thank my gold shield patrons, Debra Dunbar from debradunbar.com, C.C. Jameson from ccjameson.com, Larry Keeton, Vicki Tharp at vickitharp.com, Chrysann, Larry Darter, Natalie Barelli of nataliebarelli.com, and Craig Kingsman of craigkingsman.com for their support. And thanks also go to my silver cuff link and coffee club patrons for their support as well. You can find links to all of the writers supporting this episode by going to the show notes at writersdetective.com/81. And to learn about setting up your own Patreon account for your author business or to support the show for as little as $2 per month, visit writersdetective.com/patreon.
This week's first question comes from Joel Shulkin who asks, "The episode on wiretapping was very useful, but I have a couple of questions that relate to a situation in my work in progress. First, do police have to identify someone as a suspect in order to obtain a wire tap warrant, or could it simply be a person of interest or even a witness who has refused to answer questions? Second, what if the subject to be wiretapped is a minor? Do the police have to follow any different procedures or process than they would for an adult? Do they need to notify the parent? Thanks so much." Great questions, Joel. There's a lot that goes into getting a wiretap because the courts have held that it's one of the most invasive types of surveillance that government can do with regard to a person's privacy. So we, the cops, have to exhaust other means of investigation first, and that investigation has to be directed at a known person or persons at least to begin with.
And those targets of the wiretap investigation must be suspects in the crime that you're investigating. So to answer the latter part of your first question, we cannot target the phones of a witness or a victim because they haven't done anything wrong. So there's no reason, legally speaking, for the government to intrude on their privacy. And in fact, there are actually a limited number of crimes that we can even get a wire tap for. So it varies based on whether you're seeking a federal wire tap order or a wire tap order through the state court that you're, within the state that you're in, as to which crimes you can and cannot get a wire order for. But regardless of whether you're going the federal route or the state route, those crimes are specified in the law, and all of them are going to be major cases. So assuming you're investigating one of the crimes that you can get a communications intercept order for, there's more to it than just explaining your probable cause like in an affidavit for a search warrant or an arrest warrant... Continue reading...
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