1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Can the police tap someone's phone in this case?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Ryan Elder, Jun 25, 2016.

    For my story, I did some research before and found out that legally the police wouldn't have any grounds to tap the villain's phone, to record any conversations and get evidence.

    However, there is another character who is after the villain, with means to kill him the police highly suspect. Perhaps the police could use this to get creative.

    What if the police came to the villain, explained that they found out someone is after him to kill him, and the police ask for permission to tap his phone to try to catch the guy, in case any mysterious strangers contact him, that could be the man after him.

    The villain then agrees, but he of course would not use his regular cellphone to have conversations with other criminals. He would use one of his burners. But the cops tap the burner phone instead, and the villain doesn't know that they have tapped his burner, thinking they tapped his cell that is actually registered to him, that he gave the number of, to the police.

    Can the police trick someone that way, and tap one phone, when the suspect thought, they were going to tap another, especially if the suspect was in real danger from another person, as a legal means to ask him permission to tap it?
     
  2. Davek74
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    Davek74 New Member

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    In a word, no. The police can't act in an illegal or dishonest manner.

    There's many ways to skin a cat through, that potentially could develop characters for you.

    Any form of phone tapping / bugging tracking etc requires authorisation from senior officers to carry out intrusive surveillance.

    Your villain permits police to bug his phone, for his own safety. The likelihood is that the authority to do so would still be required - perhaps your cop takes it upon himself to switch the phone number being bugged, tapping the burner phone, which could create problems later - how do you use the evidence that is gathered, when its been gathered illegally? Does the cop start lying on his evidence file / in court - dangerous territory for the cop, but easy to fall in to.

    Likewise, if your cop is a bit "ends justify the means" there's nothing stopping him / her from tapping the villain's phone himself. Maybe the villain is locked up and his mobile seized off him - you can get software of the internet very easily, that you can load up on the phone and listen in / read messages/ trace - all illegal and all with pros and construction and develops plot lines nicely.

    What if you're cop bugs the phone illegally, for the right reasons but still illegally, and finds out that the villain is in to something bigger and worse - terrorism or some kind of assassination - the cop can't reveal how he got the information as it's illegal (and he'll likely go to prison if discovered, even if it prevents an atrocity). He's got the info but can't use it, what does he do?


     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Those are some good ideas. One idea I floated around before in doing legal research is that the cop finds out the identity of the leader of the gang, but he finds out with illegal methods. He starts surveying the leader on his own time, but then witnesses the leader engage in a crime like murder, but then if he chooses to report the murder he saw, he would have to lie about how he discovered the leader's identity. Or he would choose not to report it, so he wouldn't have to risk being caught in a lie, and come up with another plan entirely.

    Since we are on the topic of what is legal and not, I have another question for my story, for research if that is okay. I read that the legally, the police cannot issue search warrants or issue wire taps based on anonymous tips. The tippers have to come forth, with how they got the information so the police can know if they have legal grounds to search, seize, and wire tap suspects, and an anonymous caller, will not do.

    However, I came across this article, where it says the police were able to search and seize based on an anonymous tip:

    http://storageunitrental.blogspot.ca/2013/02/self-storage-and-law-drug-busts.html

    The article says this:
    • Police in California discovered 168 pounds of marijuana inside a unit in Sauslito. An anonymous tip led police to the storage facility where they found the pot along with the tenant who had been residing in the locker. The tenant had outfitted that unit with electricity and cable television. The drugs were valued at around $420,000. The facility manager denied knowing about the drugs or the person residing in it.
    So is it true then, and the police can do that if they do not know the source of the intel, or what is the exception to the rule, if any here?
     
  4. KPMay
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    KPMay Member

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    I think it depends on individual departments, they all have different guidelines and procedures.
    It seems believable enough for a book to me, especially if you found an article on it happening somewhere.
     
  5. CrusherBrooks
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    CrusherBrooks Member Supporter

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    If I were the cop and I really wanted to tap this guy's phone, here's how I'd do it (provided I know how to tap phones, of course).
    1 Tap the villain's phone and gather some sort of incriminating evidence against him
    2 Email myself or my partner cop (is that how cops work? that's how it works in movies) the evidence using a disposable email address (10 minute mail is a good one), as an anonymous tip
    3 Present the evidence to my superior and start the procedure for legal phone tapping.
    4 Repeat until you get the legal phone tap
    I don't really know how well the police know how to trace information, but I guess as cop you'd know how to circumvent most of that.
    So yeah I think there are reasonable ways to get your characters to tap his phone, and if I were reading the story unfold as such... I'd find it plausible enough
     
  6. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But when I talked to a cop before, he said that the police cannot get a wire tap order, based on an anonymous tip. But perhaps if it came with other audio evidence to support it maybe.
     

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