The growing use of wiretaps in white collar investigations

Between the years 2000 and 2010 the number of wiretap warrants issued in the United States increased by nearly 200 percent. Since then, wiretaps have been used more and more often as part of white collar crime investigations.

In 1968 Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, a federal law that allowed federal agents to wiretap phones used by criminal suspects in order to collect evidence. The law was passed in response to rampant organized crime, focusing on narcotics violations.

Part of the justification for allowing wiretaps in cases involving those crimes was that other methods of evidence collection were either impractical or dangerous in some cases. For example, it may have been too risky to place an undercover federal agent in a situation involving violent organized criminals. Allowing wiretaps in those cases would provide law enforcement officials with valuable evidence without putting agents in harm's way.

So the law contained strict requirements that must be satisfied to justify a wiretap. The agency requesting a wiretap warrant must submit to a judge thorough documentation of what evidence collection methods have already been used and whether or not they were successful.

However, since wiretaps were used in the high-profile Galleon Group trial, those accused of white collar violations are at an increased risk of being subjected to wiretaps. It is important that law enforcement officials follow certain laws and procedures, or the evidence garnered from wiretaps may be thrown out in court.

If you are facing criminal charges it is important to work with someone who can help. Consider getting in touch with an experienced attorney.

Source: Forbes, "Once Reserved For Drug Crimes, Wiretapping Takes Center Stage in White Collar Prosecutions," Jordan Maglich, May 21, 2013

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