It has been reported that once again the F.B.I. seems to be hiding planted microphones to spy on American citizens. Federal agents have planted hidden microphones and conducted secret video surveillance at Alameda County’s Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in northern California for ten months. They did not have a search warrant as required by the fourth amendment to be able to do so.
The FBI’s surveillance operation was part of an investigation into alleged bid rigging scheme at foreclosed property auctions where thousands of houses and apartment buildings were sold by banks. Defense attorneys for some of those accused of the fraud say these surveillance tactics violate their clients’ constitutional rights, along with anyone else’s whose conversations might have been recorded. They claim that speaking in public does not mean one does not have an expectation of privacy. Private conversations, especially in or near courtrooms, happen routinely amongst citizens and attorneys alike.
The FBI planted microphones in bushes, at a bus stop, on a pole, and inside vehicles near the auction site. A similar thing happened in San Mateo last year. Facing these allegatiosn of constitutional violations, government prosecutors in San Mateo had moved to withdraw the recordings as evidence at trial.
When a Warrant is Required
Under the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you are afforded rights to privacy and protection from unreasonable searches. For example, in the famous case of Riley v. California (2014), the Supreme Court held that police may not search cell phones of criminal suspects upon arrest without a warrant, based on the premise that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy when using a cell phone. The Court distinguished the phone from traditional items such as wallets. Instead, smartphones are more akin to mini-computers nowadays, which possess a wealth of private information.
Similarly, in the case of Kyllo v. U.S. (2001), the Supreme Court held that the use of thermal imaging to see inside someone’s home is unconstitutional because of the expectation of privacy. At the time, use of thermal imaging was also not common nor a readily available technology. However, any police findings that can be seen with the naked eye is not a fourth amendment violation.
San Diego Constitutional Rights and Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje will staunchly defend your fourth and fifth amendment rights and your constitutional rights as a suspect. We handle all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases and will walk you through your case from arrest to trial. When you understand the potential consequences of a being charged with a crime, you will understand how important it is to work with an experienced attorney who knows the local courts and the rights you are afforded under the constitution. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, contact attorney David Boertje today. Consultations are free and confidential.