Chicago Wiretap Laws and Your Rights

chicago wiretap laws

It seems as though every crime drama on television or the big screen includes at least one law enforcement agency tapping the bad guy’s phone. Understandably, that may lead you to believe that wiretaps and cell phone tapping are commonplace during a criminal investigation. The truth, however, is that tapping a suspect’s phone is not something that is routinely done by the police. A Chicago criminal defense attorney explains the Chicago wiretapping laws and your rights concerning wiretap evidence.

What Is Wiretapping?

Wiretapping is a tool used in criminal investigations that involves intercepting, monitoring, and recording the telephone conversations of a suspect. The objective is to record a suspect making incriminating statements or divulging crucial information relating to criminal conduct.

State vs Federal Investigations

Because the United States operates under a federalist system, both the federal government and the individual state governments can enact criminal laws and prosecute violations of those laws. Consequently, a criminal investigation could be conducted by a federal law enforcement agency, such as the FBI, or by a city, county, or state agency, such as the Chicago Police Department. The requirements and procedures for obtaining an order for wiretapping a suspect’s phone will depend on whether the case will be prosecuted in state or federal court. However, the laws are similar.

Chicago wiretapping lawsCan the Police Wiretap My Phone?

For a law enforcement agency to tap a suspect’s phone, they must get a court order signed by a judge. The process is similar to obtaining a search warrant. A police officer must submit a sworn statement supporting probable cause and describing the places to be searched with reasonable particularity. There are heightened requirements for a wiretap warrant. They include the identity of everyone whose communications will be tapped, a statement regarding any previous similar applications for wiretaps, and a statement explaining that there is no other way of obtaining the evidence sought

The law views a wiretap as a serious intrusion into an individual’s privacy which is why there are additional requirements for obtaining a wiretap warrant. Sometimes, the police exaggerate or stretch the truth on a wiretap application in their zeal to get the order. This is often the best way to challenge wiretap evidence, by challenging the warrant used to set up the wiretap. If you successfully challenge the legality of the wiretap, any evidence obtained as a result of that illegal wiretap may be excluded from being used against you at trial.

Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

The Chicago wiretap act is complex and even more complicated when applied in a criminal case. If you believe the police are tapping your phone, it is in your best interest to consult with a criminal defense attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC today by calling (312) 644-0444 or by filling out our online contact form.

This blog is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on specific legal questions.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : October 21, 2019